Two weeks ago, Ireland was one of 16 countries to sign a declaration to keep loot boxes in check, investigating where the in-game practice steps over the blurred line of gambling laws. Despite this, and ongoing attempts to redefine gambling laws in the country, Department of Justice David Stanton has stated that loot boxes continue to “fall within normal consumer law.”
Loot boxes walk a fine line between in-game progression and gambling, with an increasing concern shown towards how the latter could affect vulnerable players, such as minors. Action taken by Belgium and the Netherlands prompted European and American regulators to come together in an agreement dedicated to “clear public concern” surrounding potential risks, with hopes of defining a blanket definition that would benefit players, regulators and publishers as a whole.
Although there’s a chance that Ireland could make room for loot boxes in its ongoing overhaul of gambling laws, Stanton told the Senate of Ireland that the Department of Justice and Equality “does not have a role to regulate game developers on how their games work nor, in the offering of in-game purchases,” reports Irish Legal News.
Stanton stated that he personally believes a game should be licensed as a gambling product when “a game offers the possibility of placing a bet or the taking of risk for financial reward within the game.” He did not, however clarify what constituted as a risk, nor whether financial reward could be in-game currency.
“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,” concluded Stanton.
KitGuru Says: This declaration might not be a legal obligation, but it does raise valid concerns about the psychological similarities of loot boxes and gambling, as well as their effects on vulnerable players without proper regulation. How do you feel about Ireland’s stance on loot boxes?