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Dutch political parties back gaming loot box ban

Political parties in the Netherlands have broadly backed a new attempt to block the sale of video game loot boxes in the country.

Six parties say they will support the motion, which would bring Dutch law largely in line with Belgium – where loot boxes were outlawed back in 2018 (thanks, Neowin).

The motion describes loot boxes as “a form of gambling” and states “children in video games are manipulated to purchase” such items via in-game microtransactions.

FIFA 22’s Ultimate Team packs have caught the eye of Dutch authorities in the past.

While not signed into law yet, the six parties make up over half of the country’s Senate and House of Representatives, suggesting the motion may well succeed.

Dutch politicians have previously tried and failed to regulate video game loot boxes – most notably via a lengthy spat with EA over Ultimate Team packs in FIFA.

In October 2020, the Court of the Hague ruled FIFA packs broke Dutch gambling law and slapped EA with a €500k fine for every week it did not comply with its demand to pull the packs from that year’s FIFA. EA appealed the request and allowed the fine to reach its €10m upper limit.

Two years later, EA had the fine overturned by the Dutch Administrative Jurisdiction Division – the country’s highest court.

Now, this new Dutch legislation may close the loophole which saw EA let off (as the acquisition of FIFA packs was “not an isolated game” and the packs themselves were part of a “wider game of skill”).

In January 2019, EA stopped selling FIFA Points in Belgium following government pressure over loot boxes.

There’s recently been pressure on loot boxes in Spain, also. Last month, Reuters reported that the country was planning regulation to combat “thoughtless, compulsive or even pathological” consumer behaviour while still allowing users to enjoy games. The finer details of this legislation are expected in the next few weeks.

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