European games censors get together to oppose loot boxes in video games
See article from gamedaily.biz
Fifteen EU-based regulators plus Washington State have made a joint declaration while Australian based study likens loot boxes to gambling, not baseball cards
Fifteen EU gambling regulators from the UK, Ireland, France, Austria, Poland, Latvia, the
Czech Republic, Spain, the Isle of Man, Malta, Portugal, Jersey, Norway, and the Netherlands plus US representation from the Washington State Gambling Regulator published the letter, noting their concerns with the business model.
In addition to
the loot box problem, the letter addresses how it will take on websites that let players either gamble or sell in-game items like skins or weapons with real-world money.
One of the signatories, Neil McArthur, CEO of the UK Gambling Commission
We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children. We encourage video games companies to work with
their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.
The letter speaks of the groups concerns but does not detail the direction sthat the group
will take in reacting to the concerns.
According to VentureBeat, a study conducted by the Australian Parliament's Environment and Communications References Committee showed that there were links between loot box spending and problematic gambling.
The population sample size was 7500 people.
The more severe a gamers' problem gambling was, the more likely they were to spend large amounts of money on loot boxes. These results strongly support claims that loot boxes are psychologically akin to
gambling, said the report, conducted by Dr. David Zendle and Dr. Paul Cairns.
In a statement, the pair added loot boxes could potentially act as an introduction to gambling or take advantage of gambling disorders. They note that the industry tends
to brush off loot boxes as similar to harmless products like baseball cards, football/soccer stickers, and products along those lines.
In related news games maker EA could face legal issues for ignoring a ruling by the Belgian government to remove
the Ultimate Team portion from FIFA 18.
Poland ratchets up the oppression of internet users by requiring ISPs to snitch on attempts to access banned websites
|20th July 2018
See article from europeangaming.eu
The Polish government is demanding that ISPs snitch on their customers who attempt to access websites it deems illegal.
The government wants to make the restrictions stricter for unauthorised online gambling sites and will require local ISPs to
inform it about citizens' attempts to access them. According to the Panoptykon Foundation, a digital rights watchdog, the government will compile a central registry of unauthorized websites to monitor.
According to the digital rights body, the
government seeks to introduce a chief snooper that would compel data from ISPs disclosing which citizens tried to access unauthorised websites. In addition, the ISPs would have to keep the smooping requests secret from the customer.
organisations are unsurprisingly worried that the censorship's expansion could turn out to be the first of many steps in an online limitation escalation.
French gaming authority decides that loot boxes are not gambling
|9th July 2018
See article from cinemablend.com
France's online gaming authority (ARJEL, Autorité de Régulation des Jeux En Ligne) has decided that loot boxes in premium-priced games are not gambling. It determined that loot boxes are not legally considered gambling, and therefore are not
However, ARJEL will continue to monitor the matter and is also calling for more unilateral support from the European Union in order to achieve a sound consensus on whether or not to consider loot boxes gambling.
ARJEL, the fact that you can't readily cash out your rewards from loot boxes for real-world currency means that in the minds of regulators it's not quite gambling. For them, the only way it would be gambling is if players could actually retrieve the
money that they invested into the product.
However, ARJEL also believes that loot boxes do contain questionable psychological hooks that work very similar to slot machines and roulette wheels in terms of luring gamers into a feeling of needing to
spend more money in order to acquire the item they seek.
Dutch games censors declare that their grace period has expired and they will be enforcing their ban on loot boxes
|25th June 2018
See article from
The Dutch gambling authority will enforce a new ban on loot boxes. They identified four games that offer loot boxes that are considered gambling. According to the public broadcast company these games are FIFA 18, DOTA 2 , PlayerUnknown's BattleGrounds
and Rocket League .
These games had until the 20th of June to make changes to the gambling aspect of their loot boxes. Starting from Thursday the gambling authority will enforce the rules. Fines can be 830.000 euro (960.000 dollar) or 10%
of the company's worldwide revenue. If they don't make changes, the public prosecutor will look into prosecution.
State Monopoly is 4/6, Total Censorship is 5/4, and Online Freedom is a non-runner
|12th June 2018
9th June 2018. See article from
Swiss voters will decide on Sunday whether to back a new gambling law designed to restrict online gambling to a state monopoly or reject what opponents say amounts to internet censorship.
Recent polls indicate a clear majority plan support the new
law, which has already been passed by both houses of parliament, and now is being put to a referendum.
The Swiss government says the Gambling Act updates legislation for the digital age. If approved by voters, the law would be among the strictest
in Europe and would only allow casinos and gaming companies certified in Switzerland to operate, including on the internet. This would enable Swiss companies for the first time to offer online gambling, but would basically block foreign-based companies
from the market.
Bern also wants all of the companies' proceeds to be taxed in Switzerland, with revenues helping fund anti-addiction measures, as well as social security and sports and culture programmes.
The new law represents a windfall
for Switzerland's casinos, which had put huge amounts of money into campaigning.
Opponents have slammed Bern for employing methods worthy of an authoritarian state, with a measure that they claim is censorship of the internet.
Update: State Monopoly wins by a distance
12th June 2018. See article from globaltimes.cn
Swiss voters have
overwhelmingly approved blocking foreign-based betting sites in a referendum on a new gambling law designed to create a local monopoly.
72.9% of voters came out in favor of the new gambling law.
The law, which is set to take effect next
year, will be among the strictest in Europe, allowing only casinos and gaming companies certified in Switzerland to operate in the country, including on the internet.
It will enable Swiss companies for the first time to offer online gambling, but
will basically block foreign-based companies from the market.
|10th May 2018
Video game developer EA is to continue offering loot boxes in a transparent, fun, fair, balanced way
See article from vg247.com
Netherlands censors put 4 video games on notice that they will be banned if they don't remove loot boxes
See article from usgamer.net
The Dutch Gaming Authority (kansspelautoriteit) has ruled on the matter of loot boxes i computer games and has determined that out of ten popular games with loot boxes the commission investigated, four don't comply with the country's Better Gaming
According to the Dutch Gaming Authority, the four games in violation of the Better Gaming Act because they feature elements in them that can also be found in the gambling world. Because loot box items could be traded for euro at fluctuating
prices, these items have economic value. And since players can earn money for rare items, the games violate the rules of chance.
Of the remaining six games the Dutch Gaming Authority investigated, they found that the loot boxes contained items
that could not be traded. Thus they are in compliance with the Better Gaming Act. However, the group still criticized how loot boxes were implemented as slot machines or roulettes.
Companies that do not comply with the Better Gaming Act can be
fined or even prohibited from being sold in the Netherlands.
The games will only be officially identified if they don't take the required remedial action. However it has been reported that likely games requiring cuts are Playerunknown's
Battlegrounds (PUBG), Dota 2 , and Rocket League which include items that can be traded through third-party services
Russia blocks thousands of websites connected to casino games and sports betting
|18th April 2018
See article from casinoreports.ca
The Russian internet censor Roskomnadzor, has blocked 1,882 sites with gambling content in just a week.
The latest statistics were published by Betting Business Russia (BBR), an independent online magazine focused on the gaming and betting
industry. The magazine estimates that the censor blocked 806 platforms that represent online casinos, online lotteries or Internet poker rooms.
A large number of the blocked sites during the past week include mirror sites trying to work
around previous block. The most nirrored site, with 298 blocked domains, is Fonbet, the country's largest sportsbook operator.
Despite not offering gambling content, another 172 websites were blocked in the period April 8 to April 14. The magazine
explains that these sites publish information on bookmakers, casinos, gambling machines, and sweepstakes.
Earlier in March 2018, the censor blocked 7398 sites with gambling content.
Russia has strict anti-gambling laws that prohibit almost
any form of betting or real-money games.
888 Casino responds to a Recent ASA decision by shutting down its affiliate scheme, at least for advertising in the UK
|27th January 2018
See article from igamingbusiness.com
Last September the adverts at ASA rightfully laid into adverts for several gambling firms that suggested that gambling could be a way for people's problems.
The adverts were not placed by the companies themselves, but by independent affiliates who are
paid by commissions on sales, and are not under editorial control of the gambling company.
ASA made the case that the gambling companies were ultimately responsible for the advertising placed by affiliates. There is a valid rationale behind this
line of thinking, because the gambling company is able to terminate their agreement with affiliates who don't play ball. However this isn't really a practical way of controlling affiliates because reputational damage can be done before the company or
censors become aware of bad advertising.
So of course the only available practical solution is to terminate the entire affiliate advertising model. And that is what has resulted from the ASA decision. The online casino 888 has sent out emails to
its affiliates stating they must no longer target UK traffic and 888 would no longer pay them commission for newly generated players. The affiliates were told:
As you may be aware the regulatory landscape for affiliates is constantly
changing and evolving, especially in the UK. In order to help ensure that we work with our affiliate partners in a compliant manner, we are seeking to exert greater control on the traffic which is generated from the UK.
As a result, from January
29th 2018, you must not target UK IP addresses and/or any persons located in the UK. Therefore, we shall no longer pay you any commission with regard to money players in the UK which you generate.
888 told iGamingBusiness:
888 takes the issue of responsible gaming very seriously and has taken a number steps to ensure its marketing complies with the Gambling Commission's LCCP and ASA's advertising codes.
Swiss campaigners seek a people's referendum to overturn a law blocking foreign competitors to Swiss gambling websites, justifiably fearing that this is a Trojan Horse for wider internet censorship
|10th January 2018
See article from calvinayre.com
Last September, Swiss legislators approved changes to its gambling laws will introduce website blocking for foreign competitors to Switzerland's own gambling industry.
This domain-blocking plan, set to take effect in 2019, met with pushback from Swiss
ISPs and civil libertarians, who decided Swiss voters should have a say in this flirtation with authoritarian censorship. Swiss law allows voters a referendum on contentious legislation provided 50k citizens sign the necessary petition within 100 days of
the law's passage.
On Tuesday, Swiss media outlet Blick reported that a coalition of three political parties and the Internet Society Switzerland Chapter had so far collected around 65k signatures, of which 25k have been certified by the
state. The group has until January 18 to certify the additional 25k signatures needed for the referendum to be approved.
Andri Silberschmidt, president of the youth organization of Switzerland's Free Democratic Party, told Blick that his group was
intent on combatting digital isolation, mindful that once a government starts banning what its citizens can do online, even tighter restrictions are usually not far behind. Freedom for the economy and the internet, has great support in Switzerland.
The local casino industry, which has long complained that its falling revenue was due to competition from international gambling sites. But the most recent data from the Swiss Federation of Casinos showed the nation's 21 licensed brick-and-mortar
casinos posted a modest year-on-year revenue gain in 2016. Lottery and sports betting revenue enjoyed even larger gains in 2016, rising 8.3% year-on-year. So it appears that there are bluffs to call.