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Predatory gambling in loot boxes prompts action by Belgium and US

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The discussion on loot boxes continues this week as multiple nations weigh in on the issue.

Not only have both Belgium and The Netherlands launched official investigations into the matter, legislators in the US state of Hawaii have announced intent to address the problem of loot boxes. Star Wars Battlefront 2 made headlines when it angered a huge section of the gaming community, causing the most-downvoted comment chain in Reddit history and a sharp decrease in EA stock prices. The issue has caused EA such trouble that they even adjusted similar models in other games to lessen backlash.

Adding to industry concerns over legislation of loot boxes, Belgium’s Minister of Justice has deemed them to be classed as gambling.

Belgium’s Minister of Justice Koen Geens has also weighed in on the issue and speaking to VTM he said, “Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of a child.”

Geens has stressed he is looking to have features such as look boxes banned in Belgium when the user does now know what they are receiving when they purchase. Geens added, ” But, that takes time, because we have to go to Europe. We will certainly try to ban it.”

In the UK and US, the idea of loot boxes being classed as gambling has been brushed aside by the UK Gambling Commision and the ESRB.

But fear not,  it’s not hopeless for gamers in the US either.

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Democrat representative Chris Lee took to the podium specifically singling out Star Wars Battlefront 2 which he described as an “online casino specifically designed to lure kids into spending money.” He brilliantly added, “It’s a trap!”

Lee voiced concerns that companies and the industry at large needed to “protect kids who are underage, not psychologically or emotionally mature enough to be able to gamble which is why gambling is prohibited under 21.” He made it clear that the idea of legislating these mechanics to protect users was definitely on  the table.

Lee was also joined by State Rep. Sean Quinlan. Quinlan said that Star Wars Battlefront 2 has the most popular IP in the world attached to it and it’s marketed squarely towards children.  He added, “we shouldn’t allow Star Wars to encourage your kids to gamble.”

A mother, minister, and gamer chipped in with their thoughts on gambling and how it gambling in games is an “equal danger.” The gamer said this latest release from EA is “the tipping point”.

You can find a video of Lee’s remarks below:

It certainly seems like these remarks could mark the beginning of seriously needed change in the gaming industry. What do you think?

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