French Gambling Regulator Deems Loot Boxes Not Gambling. Yet.

French Gambling Regulator Deems Loot Boxes Not Gambling. Yet.

ARJEL, France’s regulatory body on gambling, has just released their 2017-2018 activity report. Although the report criticizes the practice of loot boxes, it ruled that they don’t fall under the legal definition of gambling.

Still planning on investigating

Recently, Belgium and the Netherlands have deemed loot boxes gambling and therefore illegal. Now, France has taken a crack at the big debate sparked by Star Wars: Battlefront II. Th ARJEL, France’s regulatory body on gambling, released their 2017-2018 activity report, written in French. Fortunately for us, media law associate Sebastian Schwiddenssen of Baker McKenzie offered up an analysis of the report in English via Linkedin.

Being a key market, France’s decision on loot boxes has been tensely awaited for some time now. In order for ARJEL to classify something as gambling, the activity would have to:

  • Be available to the public.
  • Require a financial sacrifice in anticipation of some gain.
  • Have some element of chance (this one isn’t stated directly, but it’s implied.)

With the basic parameters sorted out, there are also special considerations. ARJEL noted that games with loot boxes don’t necessarily have hard age limits, and could normalize gambling behaviors. It’s also noted that they don’t post the odds for rewards offered (as they are in, for example, China.) Finally, there’s also a concern personal data could be exploited to hook players based on interests and past purchases.

ARJEL made the decision to call for coordinated action on loot boxes, stopping short of instigating that action themselves. They’re hoping to have financial regulators do a more in-depth analysis and get a combined consensus across Europe.The Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF) has a publication in the works that will help clarify rules and inform parents about potential risks.

In the end, loot boxes are still okay in France, but that’s most certainly not the final matter. ARJEL is supporting a University of Bordeaux chair on gambling regulation in the online era. It’s set to take place early in 2019.