Back in May, Valve was contacted by the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit with two letters accusing their loot boxes of violating the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act. Valve explains that the Dutch authorities took a different stance to most other countries and requested that the Loot Boxes must fall within Dutch law by June 20th or Valve would be subject to prosecution. The Dutch Gaming Authority said it can impose fines of €830,000 or 10% of the company’s international turnover, whichever is the greater figure.
As of June 20th, all Loot Box trading was officially suspended for CSGO and DOTA 2 players using Steam in the Netherlands. This was the only workaround that Valve could implement at such short notice and falls into line with the following law:
“Loot boxes contravene the law if the in-game goods from the loot boxes are transferable. Loot boxes do not contravene the law if the in-game goods from the loot boxes are not transferable.”
Valve pithily describes it as a “rather simplistic statement”, although it seems a relatively straightforward rule to adhere to. Once the items can be traded they have a real-world value and therefore constitutes gambling. Remove the trading and the market value is lost, thereby adhering to the ruling of the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit. Valve has apologised to its Dutch customers and hopes that after further consultation with the Kansspelautoriteit they can “refine their legal demands” and find a solution “that is less inconvenient.”
When this issue first came to light, Valve certainly wasn’t the only offender. It looks as if other popular games in Holland are going to have to make similar changes in order to comply with local laws. The big question now is whether any other countries are going to follow suit.