Loot boxes in games create a mixing of games of chance and games of skill. Although the outcome of games is determined by skill, the outcome of loot boxes is determined by chance. Players usually has to pay for a loot box. The prize that they can win with loot boxes may also have a monetary value. This fact gave rise to the question of whether loot boxes are permitted on the grounds of the Betting and Gaming Act (Wet op de kansspelen). The Netherlands Gaming Authority was also interested in whether addiction risks are associated with opening loot boxes.
Reason for the study
The Netherlands Gaming Authority studied loot boxes after concerns were raised by gamers, parents and addiction care.
Findings of the study
The study revealed that four of the ten loot boxes that were studied contravene the law. The reason is that the content of these loot boxes is determined by chance and that the prizes to be won can be traded outside of the game: the prizes have a market value. Offering these types of games of chance to Dutch consumers without a licence is prohibited.
The analyses that are currently available indicate that all of the loot boxes that were studied could be addictive. Loot boxes are similar to gambling games such as slot machines and roulette in terms of design and mechanisms. There are, however, no indications of loot boxes being opened on a large scale by problem players and/or addicted players. Socially vulnerable groups, such as young people, are being encouraged to play games of chance.
This study of loot boxes comprised various components. The legal permissibility of loot boxes has been studied by consulting the Guide on Assessing Games of Chance (Leidraad beoordeling kansspelen). To do so, the functioning of the loot boxes was analysed, including by opening loot boxes ourselves. While addiction risk was researched by studying the literature, information was obtained from addiction care and other experts. The loot boxes in the games were also evaluated using the evaluation instrument that was previously used to analyse the Dutch gambling market, but a degree of caution is needed with these results.
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