Dutch court rules in favour of regulator imposing penalties on EA for loot boxes in FIFA

The Dutch court has recently ruled in favour of the Dutch betting and gambling authority imposing a penalty of up to 5 million euros on EA in 2019 for its use of loot boxes in the FIFA football game. Lisette den Butter reports.

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In 2019, the Dutch betting and gambling authority (Kansspelautoriteit) (Gambling Authority) imposed an administrative order subject to a penalty of up to 5 million euros on Electronic Arts Inc. and Electronic Arts Swiss Sàrl (EA) for its ‘packs’ in the FIFA football game. According to the Gambling Authority, ‘packs’, i.e. loot boxes, are a violation of the Dutch Betting and Gambling Act. The Gambling Authority imposed an order on EA to remove ‘packs’ in their current form within three weeks subject to periodic penalty payments. EA contested both the administrative order and the Gambling Authority’s desire to reveal them to the public.

Last week, the Dutch court ruled in favour of the Gambling Authority, allowing the Gambling Authority to proceed with enforcement for violation of the Dutch Betting and Gambling Act. The objections as raised by EA were considered unfounded. EA mentioned online that EA will be appealing the decision.

In brief, the Dutch court ruled that FIFA, generally a game of skill, does contain an online game of chance, a loot box, because of its ‘packs’. According to the Dutch court, the outcome of packs is only determined by chance, players have no predominant influence on the content of the packs and no skill is required to participate in packs. The court also considered that with the ‘packs’, players can win objects that represent a (possibly high) economic value and that the objects from packs can be traded, both on the internal transfer market and on the black market. Under Dutch law, offering online games of chance without a license is prohibited.

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