The Legal Status of Loot Boxes in Gaming

The most intense criticism of loot boxes came in late 2017 after being stoked by the Star Wars Battlefront 2’s subsequently-revised progression system. For a while after that, it seemed that the conversation had cooled a little with industry working conditions and net neutrality regulations taking the center stage for a while. This was, however, short-lived s regulators from around the worlds began to crack down on the practice citing concerns that the loot boxes were promoting gambling both illegally and to underage people.

This turned the issue from being a mere consumer criticism to a full-fledged legal question. In Belgium, for instance, the government is of the opinion that loot boxes are a form of gambling and should thus be regulated in the same that all other forms of gambling are. Other countries have taken similar stands as well and in 2019 we should expect even more twists in as far this particular issue is concerned.

As it is, much of the legal battle involving loot boxes revolves around concepts of transferability, real money value as well as publisher profits. Transferability refers to the whether or not items offered by the loot boxes are tradeable which would make them commodities in real money transactions. It has been argued that the game publishers are profiting indirectly off the aftermarket value items that are found in the loot boxes offered in their games – this is simply because increased value of potential rewards increases the demand.

The Crackdown on Loot Boxes

The crackdown on various loot box mechanics began in the Netherlands in early 2018 after the country’s gaming authority found 4 out of 10 games it investigated to be in need of a gambling license if they were to continue operating within its borders. This was followed by a number of media reports which named Dota 2, Rocket League, FIFA 18 and PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds as these first wave offenders. Other countries also began to look into loot boxes at about the same time – these included the United Kingdom, the United States, China, South Korea, and Australia.

What Is in Store for Loot Boxes in 2019?

Well, one thing is for sure – even though several governments are regulators are seriously investigating loot boxes, the law is more often than not very sluggish when it comes to catching up with changing realities of the information age. That said, this sluggishness is certainly bound to leave loot boxes in the legal grey area in many parts of the world which might be a problem in the future in case some of the loot boxes do indeed promote gambling.

Carmen Thompson

Carmen is our residential reporter always on the move and hunting down the latest scoops and rumours to explore. Nothing gets past her keen nose, especially when it comes to some serious Jelly Bean poker tournaments.

Australia to Inaugurate National Gambling Network

Australia’s following in the footsteps of the United States and Spain, two countries that both set up broader national gambling networks in the past week. While the events coincide chronologically, they are vastly independent of each other, though they reveal the same trend – more regulation & customer protection is needed in the iGaming sector.

Australia’s Governments Gather Up to Mull Gambling Framework

Australia’s six governments have come together to discuss the roll-out of the National Consumer Protection Framework, which will officially launch a number of needed social and responsible gambling initiatives across the country in 2019. While each government has been dealing with its own operators in a rather independent manner so far, the change will presuppose a united front.

The ten-point government-backed plan is intended to respond to the O’Farrell Review, a comprehensive analysis of the Australian gambling industry indicating severe shortages insofar due diligence and social responsibility checks were concerned.

With Queensland fighting back the federal measure and insisting on handling the issue on their own, the law is finally going to pass and create the country’s first national policy intended at tackling gambling problems.

The measures are designed to reduce the harm that can be caused to individuals and their families by excessive or at-risk online wagering. The National Framework will apply to about 2.5 million active online wagering accounts, or about a million people in Australia. – Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher

The framework will have a tangible effect on the gambling industry, adding an additional layer of security for customers, with 2.5 million active accounts being affected by the new regulation.

Enacting the Changes in Progress

Meanwhile, two points of the ten-step plan have already been enacted, with the links between “payday lenders and licensed wagering operations” coming into effect earlier in February 2018, and the government banning bookmakers from offering credit so that customers would be safeguarded against the temptation to continue playing when they have run out of funds.

The National Consumer Protection Framework will slash the time required to verify one’s account from 90 to 21 days, which will mean that vulnerable individuals who are part of a self-exclusion scheme or minors will be prevented from accessing the products sooner. Still, 21 days is still enough time for problem gamblers to spend money at a casino, though.

The measures will also seek to disperse any ambiguity about welcome and sign-up bonuses, obliging companies to enforce responsible advertising. In line with the upcoming responsibility measures, Australia will use a national-wide scheme that will allow all customers who want to exclude themselves completely from all establishments that offer gambling options.

The national-wide measure specifically targets non-wagering products and strives to limit the clout of offshore gambling companies. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been spearheading the offense against the unlicensed regulators, with 33 companies stopping to offer their products to Australians.

However, the majority of the companies were legal and licensed entities which opted out of the country after ACMA threatened them to lodge a complaint with their licensing bodies should they fail to comply with the watchdog’s demands.

Sophia Rojas

Growing up around law firms, Sophia keeps our team of reporters atop any legislative developments to follow up with a welcomed dose of positive news as our house trivia nut!

Offshore Gambling in Australia To Drop Significantly

The online gambling market in Australia has undergone some significant changes over the course of the past few years, as lawmakers aim to cut down on offshore gambling. Now, it has been reported that offshore gambling activity is expected to drop by over half in the coming year.

Online Gambling Reform

In 2017, Australia authorities enforced reforms that gave the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) more power to take action against unlicensed online casino operators. This meant that offshore gambling sites would face maximum penalties of $8 million per day if they continue to offer services to Australian players.

“Over the past year, we’ve moved decisively to disrupt the provision of illegal offshore gambling to Australians,” says Nerida O’Loughlin, Chair of ACMA. “If you provide prohibited or unlicensed gambling services to customers in Australia, you are breaching Australian law and we will take enforcement action.”

Since then, the ACMA has investigated nearly 140 websites. It was found that 58 weren’t offering their services to Australians after all, but the figure increased to 83 after the reform was introduced. As such, ACMA’s compliance action is certainly working in helping Australian authorities do away with unlicensed online gambling.

As a result of the reforms, ACMA anticipates that online gambling activity will drop by 50 over the course of the next year. In 2017, $450 million was spent at offshore casino websites, and it is expected that the number will drop to $200 million by the end of this year.

The reform has been an effective method of culling unlicensed gambling operators. It is quite an interesting stance, considering most countries are moving towards online gambling regulation while Australia is trying to get further and further away from it.

Australia’s Gambling Problem

For years, the Australian government has been working hard to reduce problem gambling rates across the country. In 2016, it was found that Australians lost more money to gambling than in any other developed country. Australians lost $990 per person – much more than players in Singapore, the runner-up, who lost $650 per person.

It seems that authorities in the country are targeting offshore gambling because it provides players with yet another outlet for spending money on casino games and sports betting. As such, Australian lawmakers refuse to license online casino websites and want to stop any online operators from doing so.

There’s no telling if these reforms to stop offshore gambling will actually reduce problem gambling rates in Australia. However, it is still an effective campaign that has reduced the number of offshore casino sites in the country. Only time will tell if this will be a good thing for Australians, stopping problem gambling from becoming an even bigger problem.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

Australian Gambling Ban Could Encompass Streaming

Over the course of the past year, the Australian government has been making some big changes to its online gambling laws. Lawmakers have been working hard to prevent children from viewing gambling content during sports matches on television, and now they have their sights set on live streams.

A Safe Zone for Children

The Australian Communications and Media Authority have proposed restrictions on when gambling ads can be shown during sports broadcasts. The safe zone bans these types of advertisements during times when children are more likely to be tuned in, and the ACMA is looking to revise its rules to include live streams between the hours of 5pm and 8:30pm.

Currently, there are strict rules in place for sports broadcasts during the evening, when children are likely to be home and watching television. The promotion of gambling odds is banned from five minutes before play to five minutes after play and gambling representatives are not permitted on the ground. Commentators have also been banned from promoting odds from 30 minutes before play to 30 minutes after play.

The rules change somewhat after 8:30pm, when no gambling is permitted only during play. The promotion of odds continues to be banned during play and in-play breaks but is allowed before and after the games.

It is likely these same rules will apply to live streams. However, since young people are likely to watch streams from mobile devices, the gambling ad ban may have to extend its hours.

Concerns About Underage Gambling

Australian lawmakers have been concerned about underage gambling for quite some time. Across the country, gambling rates among young people are on the rise. A study by Central Coast Gambling Help found that between 80% and 90% of adolescents gamble in any given year, with 10% to 15% of them being at risk of developing problem gambling behaviours.

Many young people who participate in gambling do so by taking part in card games, buying lottery tickets and playing scratch cards – but there are some who partake in more risky behaviour like placing wagers on sports and playing pokies. In fact, over 10 000 underage individuals attempted to sneak in to Adelaide Casino in just one year.

It is believed that gambling ads are a major contributor to this behaviour. Children see content promoting gambling from a very young age, and they are taught to normalise the behaviour without considering the risks. As such, the idea behind banning ads during hours when young people are watching television is aimed at limiting their exposure. It has the potential to make a positive impact, but there is still a long way to go before underage gambling is no longer a problem in Australia.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.