The Irish government has announced that video game loot boxes do not fall under the jurisdiction of gambling legislation.
There’s been an uproar over loot boxes, rewards in video games that contain items hidden from view until after they have been won or purchased, in recent months after Belgium’s declared them to be a form of gambling.
Other countries have expressed similar concern but Ireland’s government disagrees. Last week, David Stanton, the Minister of State in the Department of Justice, told the Senate that loot boxes aren’t a form of gambling.
According to the Irish Legal, Stanton said: “Where a game offers the possibility of placing a bet or the taking of risk for financial reward within the game, then, in my view it must be licensed as a gambling product.
“To offer gambling products in Ireland, a license is required under the Betting Acts 1931-2015 or the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. The Revenue Commissioners are the primary responsible licensing authority under both acts, with some involvement of the Minister for Justice and Equality.”
He continued: “However, it should be understood, that if a game offers in-game purchases – be they loot boxes, skins, etc – which are promoted to gamers as increasing their chances of success, such purchases are essentially a commercial or e-commerce activity. This activity would fall within normal consumer law.”
Stanton also claimed that the Department of Justice doesn’t “have a role to regulate game developers on how their games work nor in the offering of in-game purchases”.
The news comes as a shock to many people as Stanton’s comments come just weeks after the country joined several other countries who launched an investigation into the “blurred lines” between video games and gambling.
Belgium has called for an EU-wide ban on loot boxes in video games and gaming developer EA Games now faces a criminal investigation after refusing to remove loot boxes from their FIFA 19 video games in Belgium.
Leading gambling charity BeGambleAware also stated that loot boxes “normalise” gambling for children shortly before an Australian study discovered that loot boxes could act as a “gateway” to problem gambling.