Dutch Court Imposes €5 Million Fine to EA for Gambling Law Violations

By Bill Toulas / November 10, 2020

The Dutch Betting and Gambling authority was going after EA (Electronic Arts) for the way loot boxes in FIFA worked since last year. The organization wanted to force the game publisher to remove this aspect of the game because it basically constitutes a gambling element, but EA wouldn’t do it. The case went to court, and the ruling just came out - and it favors the Gambling Authority.

Not only will EA be forced to remove loot boxes from FIFA for the Dutch audience, but they will also have to pay a fine of €5 million (approximately $5.92 million) for violating the Dutch Betting and Gambling Act law. The removal of the packs from the game must be carried out in three weeks, as the original (2019) administrative order proposed.

In-game loot boxes or packs are bought by the players using real money, and they give back items of varying rarity. Because the player is not guaranteed anything and practically relies on the given chances to win something, getting what they want is actually a game of luck. Thus, opening loot boxes is considered “betting” since it follows the same logic as buying scratch tickets, for example.

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FIFA is a football/soccer video game, and while EA promotes it in the market as a game of skill, the gambling element that is brought by the existence of the in-game packs is undoubtedly present. In fact, the Dutch court has characterized this as a very strong element that can influence the game experience, enable players to trade objects for virtual or real money, and even push them to take part in black market activities online.

If EA wants to continue having the loot boxes in FIFA, they should secure a license from the Dutch Betting and Gambling authority given to “games of chance.” This would be a weird request to make for FIFA, and it would exclude non-adult audience from being allowed to play the game legally, so we don’t expect to see such a thing happening.

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