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Fiona Simmons March 6, 2023 3 min read
Austrian Court Says FIFA FUT Violates Gambling Laws
Electronic Arts (EA)’s FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) packs have been handed another blow in Europe, with an Austrian court finding them in violation of gambling laws
FUT packs are collectable digital goods that are obtained through an in-game store and distribute prizes at random. This has been long-contested to be a form of gambling in several countries in Europe, with Belgium and the Netherlands outright banning the provision of FUT packs as part of the core gameplay of the popular FIFA series.
FUT Packs Once Again the Apple of Discord in Europe
Now, Austria seems to follow in a similar path after a court said that PlayStation will have to refund players that have purchased FUT packs. According to the Hermagor court’s decision, FUT packs were in direct breach of gambling laws in the country, a still contentious claim, especially now that EA has won a case of its own in the Netherlands against the country’s gambling regulator, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) and will avoid paying a fine, at least for now.
The KSA”s decision to fine the company was overturned by Raad Van State – the Netherlands’ State Council a year ago on March 10, 2022. The issue of loot boxes has never been pressed in courts in Austria before, though, which is a fresh attack on the institution of digital goods, an incredibly lucrative mechanic that companies have introduced in their game to elicit stronger engagement, generate revenue, and generally sustain projects.
The plaintiffs in the case, including at least one minor individual, they had been allowed to gamble hundreds of euros away on FUT packs. This violated the Austrian Gaming Act, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ulrich Salburg contested, arguing that these digital packs were in fact a form of illegal gambling.
Plaintiffs Seek Reimbursement on FUT Transactions
Most of the claims placed with the court are worth around €800, but in some cases, plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement for up to €85,000. The exact amount that Sony, the company behind PlayStation, has been asked to repay is not known. Neither EA nor Sony has provided any further comment on the decision.
One of the possible reasons why Sony would be left to pick the tab, cited in the original report by Notebook Check, is that court could have gone after the company rather than EA because the former entity was directly responsible for processing the payments, shielding EA in some way. Meanwhile, EA has vehemently denied offering gambling products to minors or underage individuals, although it has complied with the decisions of Belgium and Dutch courts to withdraw the features from the two markets.
Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.