Loot Boxes Continue to Be in Dutch Ministry’s Crosshairs

Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind sent Thursday his answers to the parliamentary questions submitted by SP MP Michiel van Nispen in relation to the expressed wish by 19 European consumer organizations among which the Dutch Consumers’ Association, requesting restrictions for loot boxes.

Considering Next Course of Action

In his letter to parliament, Minister Weerwind provided answers to van Nispen’s questions and also informed lawmakers about the progress of the CDA motion seeking an outright ban on loot boxes that was passed since then.

The motion followed just months after an administrative court in the Netherlands ruled on the EA case against the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) that loot boxes should not be considered gambling products under the provisions of the Dutch Gaming Act. The court also overturned the hefty sanction of €250,000 ($250,000) per week issued by the Dutch regulator in October 2019.

Weerwind stated that the cabinet is currently considering its course of action in light of several policy initiatives arising from the “Behavioral Design in Video Games” study. In his letter, the Minister promised to report again to the parliament after the summer about what steps the cabinet would undertake.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is concentrating its efforts on prevention, informing the public about the adverse effects and addictive nature of loot boxes by utilizing teaching packages developed by the Trimbos Institute, providing information on a dedicated website, as well as answering questions on a dedicated telephone line.

Automatic Age Assigning to Games Inappropriate

Weerwind was also clear in his answers that assigning age categories to games is outside of the Ministry’s remit and he cannot automatically assign the age category 18+ to games containing loot boxes.

Delving deeper into this question posed by van Nispen, Weerwind outlined that age ratings on games are assigned by the self-regulated nonprofit company PEGI, its classification is accepted by more than 35 countries and currently, the company does not assign the age category 18+ to games containing loot boxes but only to those containing casino elements, such as the virtual casino in GTA5 and the poker in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Last month, Weerwind submitted a bill to the Council of Ministers seeking to make amends to the Decree on recruitment, advertising and gambling addiction prevention and introduce new restrictions on gambling advertising phased over the next three years in what he called, “an important step towards further curbing gambling advertisements.”

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