The French gambling regulator has ruled that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. In a report issued last week, regulatory body the Autorité de Regulation des Jeux en Ligne (ARJEL) stated that while there are some similarities between loot boxes in popular online games and gambling, they are not in breach of the country’s gambling laws.
ARJEL suggests that loot boxes do not constitute gambling because players always receive some form of reward from them. However, they body does note that they create a feeling of a “near miss” similar to those provided by slot machines, which encourages players to continue to open the boxes.
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The report itself is entirely in French, although you can read an analysis from Sebastian Schwiddessen, an associate at London law firm Baker McKenzie on LinkedIn (via PC Gamer). ARJEL says that loot boxes don’t count as gambling because the items you earn don’t have any real-world value (the body ignored third-party trading sites when making its decision). They do “undermine public policy goals for gambling,” but don’t quite cross the line into a fully-fledged form of gambling itself.
While ARJEL states that loot boxes do not constitute gambling, it does call on regulators across Europe to take collective action on the issue. That’s similar to a suggestion from Dutch authorities earlier this year, who called for loot box regulation to be rolled out across the European Union.
The French are only the latest in a long line of authorities to weigh in on the issues of loot boxes, behind the Dutch, British, Belgians, and Americans. The issue is a difficult one to regulate, especially as what may be illegal in one country is viable under the law of another. It’s almost impossible to know what exactly will happen to the loot box going forward, but a decent guess is that it will be replaced by Fortnite-style battle passes instead.