Devs face prison time and fines of up to 800,000 euros if they don’t remove them.
The Belgian Gaming Commission has ruled that some loot boxes are illegal, following a similar decision recently made by the Netherlands.
In a statement released today from minister of justice, Koen Geens, it was announced loot boxes in FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive constitute games of chance, making them subject to Belgian gaming law.
“The games with paid loot boxes, as currently offered in our country, are therefore in violation of the gaming legislation and can be dealt with under criminal law,” reads the statement. “The loot boxes must therefore also be removed.”
If the developers refuse to comply, they can face a fine of up to 800,000 euros, and up to five years in prison, although Geens notes that where minors involved, “those punishments can be doubled.” The minister of justice initially raised his concerns last year, saying “mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.”
The decision follows a ruling by the Dutch Gaming Authority, which set a June 20, 2018 deadline for the publishers to make the necessary changes to their games to comply with Dutch law by applying for a gambling license, and removing “addiction-sensitive” elements from loot boxes.
The ESRB has taken the same stance, saying “We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.”
The next step for Geens is to “enter into a dialogue” with the “developers, operators and the Gaming Commission” to “see who should take responsibility where.”