Game News

Australian Commission Analyst Thinks Loot Boxes Are Gambling

by William Schwartz


A strategic analyst for an Australian government body that regulates gambling and liquor is the latest to weigh-in on the loot box controversy that’s been sparked by Star Wars Battlefront 2.  The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation have responded to a request from a concerned citizen (via Reddit).

According to correspondence of Jarrod Wolfe of the VCGLR, “What occurs with loot boxes does constitute gambling by the definition of the Victorian Legislation.”

So does this mean that Australia is on the way to banning or regulating loot boxes?  Not quite.

Wolfe goes on to say that while his agency does regulate gambling, there are jurisdiction issues at play and the lack of powers to investigate the matter.

“Legislation has not moved as quick as technology; at both State and Federal level we are not necessarily equipped to determine the legality of these practices in lieu of the fact the entities responsible are overseas.”

“Mechanics targeted at vulnerable persons (minors), is not just morally reprehensible, but is also legally questionable.”

While enforcement doesn’t seem like the outcome by the VCGLR, Wolfe does suggest some other alternatives that may come to fruition.

“We can consider working with other agencies to bring about change,” says Wolfe.  “If these companies want to include significant elements of gambling in their products then perhaps we should work with the Australian Classification Board to ensure that any product that does that and monetizes it gets an immediate R rating.”

While little has been done legally thus far, we’ve seen a handful of government bodies starting to acknowledge the problem.  Earlier this week, a Minister of Justice in Belgium voiced his agreement in that loot boxes were gambling, while here in United States a Hawaiian State Representative described EA’s practices in Star Wars Battlefront 2 as a “trap for children” and that it was basically a “Star Wars-themed online casino.”

Nevertheless, the conversation is moving from internet forums and new articles to a place where game publishers certainly do not want it to be.  Financial publications are beginning to talk about the practices, while legislators are also forming opinions on a matter that was just a short while ago not on their radars.  Meanwhile, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) has seen a sharp decline in share price.  At the same time, financial analysts who place buy and sell ratings on stocks for investors believe that EA isn’t charging enough for their game.

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