In what could end up being a landmark moment for the current proliferation of loot crates in games, Swedish minister for public administration, Ardalan Shekarabi, has said to Swedish Radio P3 News that the Swedish government is considering classifying loot boxes as gambling by 2019.
“We are working to regain control of the gambling market as soon as possible, and to make sure that Swedish consumer protection laws apply to all actors which conduct gambling activities”, said Shekarabi.
The debate continues to rumble on as to whether loot crates should officially be classified as gambling, although the legality of the situation changes from country to country. Whatever you want to look at it though, there are a handful of players, so-called ‘whales’, that are spending considerable amounts of money on loot boxes, usually with no idea what they’re getting for their money. The common argument against loot boxes as gambling is that the player will always receive something in return, even if it’s not necessarily what they’re after.
Regardless, under current Swedish law, loot boxes are not currently regarded as gambling. As such there is no regulation in place, allowing publishers to run riot with what is potentially a very potent form of gambling addiction.
“I am prepared to ask our authorities to take a closer look into the phenomena of loot boxes to examine whether there is a need for change in legislation, with the purpose of strengthening the protection of customers,” Shekarabi went on to say. “I don’t want to rule out the possibility. First of all. I want to ask our authorities and experts to examine this. It is obvious that there are many people suffering from gambling addiction, who also get stuck in this type of gambling and lose money because of it.”
I’m a bit torn on whether or not loot boxes could, or should, be classed as gambling, but there’s certainly a lot that developers and publishers could do to make the lines a little less blurred. For starters, duplicate items should not exist. This would guarantee that there was a physical limit that any one player could spend within a game before they own everything. A handful of games already do this, but I think others should follow suit. Paying out $3 for a key and getting something you already own really isn’t good enough.
Where do you stand on this, would you be happy if loot boxes were classed as gambling in your country and regulated as such? Let us know!