Dutch Politicians Push For Loot Box Ban

July 5, 2022
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​​​​​​​A motion to ban loot boxes in the Netherlands has support from politicians across six different major parties.

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A motion to ban loot boxes in the Netherlands has support from politicians across six different major parties.

The motion was proposed by Christian Democratic Appeal member Henri Bontenbal on June 30.

“In video games, children are manipulated into microtransactions and so-called loot boxes that also involve a form of gambling,” it says.

Similarly, in an op-ed for his political party’s website, Bontenbal called loot boxes addictive and a “disguised form of gambling” that places unseen costs on families.

“That is why loot boxes should be banned as soon as possible,” Bontenbal said.

One of the six sponsors of the motion, Queeny Rajkowski, is a member of parliament for the ruling People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, which could be a potential boost for its passage.

The motion also notes that the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) tried in the past to regulate loot boxes, but the Dutch Council of State ruled on March 9 that loot boxes do not constitute gambling, ending a long legal dispute between the KSA and video games publisher EA.

The ruling essentially overturned a decision from April 2018, when the Netherlands released a report titled "Investigation into loot boxes - A loot or a burden", which concluded that loot boxes in which “chance determines the content and the prices represent an economic value” is contrary to the country’s primary gambling legislation.

The KSA still thinks gambling and video gaming should be separate.

A spokesperson for the KSA told VIXIO GamblingCompliance: “Games of chance may only be played by adults. Minors must be protected. Loot boxes are therefore undesirable. The KSA can only act if the law allows it.”

Peter-Paul de Goeij, director of the Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA), said he appreciates the motion as “vulnerable groups should not be exposed when playing a game”.

The head of NOGA told VIXIO that “gambling elements have no place in computer games” and that it considers loot boxes to “blur the lines” between gaming and gambling for consumers.

Separately, the motion also refers to 20 different consumer associations that called for loot boxes to be restricted in May 2022.

Sandra Molenaar, the CEO of Consumentenbond, the consumer association for the Netherlands, called loot boxes a “deceptive design” that “must be banned”.

“Games for minors may not offer loot boxes for real money and may not contain 'pay-to-win mechanisms'. And that must be arranged internationally, i.e. at a European level,” Molenaar said.

Neighbouring Belgium banned loot boxes in 2018 and successfully saw off challenges to its enforcement from video game publisher EA. The politicians behind the current motion in the Netherlands say they are keen to emulate this.

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