French Gambling Authority Calls for EU Strategy to Address Loot Boxes in Video Games
By Bob Garcia
ARJEL, France’s gambling authority, says microtransactions in video games undermine public policy goals for gambling. Though the regulatory body determined loot boxes are not generally a form of gambling, ARJEL is calling for the European Union to address the issue.
ARJEL included loot boxes in its 2017-18 activity report, which it released last week. Though some sources interpret ARJEL’s statements in the report to mean they will not regulate loot boxes as gambling, this is not confirmed anywhere in the report.
In fact, the French authority categorically dismissed some of the key arguments publishers have used to show their loot boxes are not like gambling. For example, ARJEL rebuked the claim that the boxes can’t be gambling because they always provide something.
According to ARJEL, the most predatory aspect of loot boxes is the way they create a feeling of “near miss” that encourages players to make sequential attempts, much like a slot machine.
The French authority is calling on the Gaming Regulators European Forum to hold a hearing on loot boxes. ARJEL wants the multi-national authority to raise awareness of the issue among parents and consumers and to establish clear rules for publishers.
For now, ARJEL is not regulating loot boxes. All publishers who include wording in their terms of service that forbids the sale of in-game items are meeting the legal minimum in France. However, ARJEL said it continues to research loot boxes and if they are not covered by current laws then the law may need to be amended.