The Netherlands is once again trying to ban randomized microtransactions in video games. To that end, six political parties have united to push new regulations that would label loot boxes as a form of gambling.
Dutch Parties Want to Reinstitute the Ban
In 2020, the Dutch government successfully banned gaming companies from offering loot boxes. However, this triumph was short-lived as courts recently greenlit microtransactions once again. Disgruntled with this decision, political parties are now pushing for a renewal of the ban.
Dutch parties emphasized that microtransactions and loot boxes in particular can be very predatory. According to them, companies wittingly “manipulate children into gambling,” which is a harmful practice that can disrupt families. The politicians also pointed out that children can become addicted and use their parents’ money for what is essentially gambling.
Loot Boxes Were Illegal for a While
The Netherlands lifted its ban on microtransactions in March 2022, following a court case that determined not all microtransactions violate gambling laws. This decision eventually helped EA, a leading game developer, avoid a hefty fine. Previously, The Hague court had allowed the Kansspelautoriteit to fine EA $522,000 for every week it kept on selling FIFA loot boxes despite the ban. Thanks to the changes in the regulatory landscape, the EA managed to avoid the ban.
The aforementioned case left loot boxes in a somewhat gray area. It didn’t necessarily refute the claim that microtransactions constitute gambling. Instead, it insisted the current gambling laws do not consider chance elements in a larger skill-based game to be gambling.
The Netherlands Isn’t the Only Opponent of Microtransactions
The Dutch parties now seek to decisively label loot boxes as gambling and lead to their removal from the localized versions of certain video games. The proposed change will have to receive the Senate’s approval, which seems likely considering the strong political and public support.
Belgium, one of the Netherlands’ neighbors, is one step ahead and has already banned video game companies from offering loot boxes in the country. Both Belgium and the Netherlands strongly oppose predatory monetization and have opted to ban Blizzard’s new title, Diablo Immortal, because of its plethora of paid content.
These two aren’t the only countries that seek to ban microtransactions. In June, consumer groups across Europe raised their voices against loot boxes. The groups demanded stricter regulations and asked the companies to do more to protect minors.
In the USA, Asmongold, a prominent streamer, recently announced that he would contact Senator Ted Cruz’s office on the matter. The streamer said that he will ask the politician to label microtransactions as gambling.