Belgium says loot crates are gambling


Yeah. While I think that fact that these activities are forms of gambling is factually accurate, how we want to react to it is a much trickier problem.

I doubt blanket laws will work and I don’t think that Gambling/Not gambling is really a binary state but rather a matter of degrees when we start thinking of it in terms of policy. Where we decide on this spectrum to start regulating, and if we already regulate at the right spot, isn’t really a question I think I have an answer for, much less a well informed opinion on.


My sons collect Match Attak cards, which are soccer cards of all the players in the teams in the premier league. There are 20 teams in the league and 25 players per team + a badge a manager/coach etc.

It’s £1 per pack and you get 9 cards in a pack. They are supposed to be random. To start with you get plenty of new cards say until your book is 50% full.Then all of a sudden you open say 5 packs and get 2 new cards and 43 doubles.

At the moment their books are probably 50% full. They now have as many doubles as 1 of’s. They take their double around their friends and their friends also have the same doubles.

What you don’t know is, are all the cards in the packs or are 50% of the cards in 90% of the packs and the other 50% in the other 10% of packs. Are even all the cards in some of the packs?

For the boys who are 7 and 10 they just want to collect more cards and fill their books and get their favourite players and complete teams with all the cards. However all you get is can I have a pack, can I have a 5 pack or 10 pack tin please. Can I spend my pocket money on them it’s what I really want.

When you say to them you can spend £10 and get 5 new cards and 85 doubles they know it’s not really right but they want those cards you see it’s addictive.

At present they normally get a couple of packs a week if they have been good and work well at school but once they wanted them all the time and to spend their own money on them even though it was a waste, we have put a 1 month no card rule in place. You see it is so addictive to them and all their school friends as well.

It’s a rip off, sure it’s fine until you reach tipping point then while you may get 9 cards per pack the fact you have them all means they have on value, especially when you have 7 of the same card and so do all your mates.

Hard pushed now to see how you can call get that many cards you already have value, I mean no one in their right mind would ever choose to buy a duplicate or 10 would they it’s the fact there is no other choice except not collect them.

To add another thing that is addictive is seeing you only need 1 player to fully complete a team it really ups the ante…


You appear to be arguing that these things don’t meet the legal definition of gambling. I am saying that there is a practical, linguistic definition by which all of these things are not just gambling, but really really clearly gambling. I don’t think we’re even having the same discussion.


Well I am not sure about the same discussion part, but yes I am talking about the legal definition since that’s what Hawaii and Belgium are really talking about right? They’re not trying to redefine the English word that is gambling, they’re trying to say that this is gambling in the sense that we should regulate it. I think we’re doing the same thing here.


I’m not. I am saying they’re gambling in the sense that they are gambling by the actual definition of the word gambling. What should be regulated how is also an interesting discussion but I don’t have a good answer to that question personally. And that doesn’t rest on the current legal definition staying the same, especially when it clearly omits things that are factually gambling.


I am pretty sure that if you ask 10 people what they consider gambling you will get 10 different responses. I think you are trying to make the term “gambling” seem much more concrete than it really is, and there a massive grey area that’s open to interpretation.


That’s not factually true in a strictly academic sense.

What is true is that 10 out of 10 people will have different ideas on the implications of gambling and then conflate those implications into their definition.


I disagree.

Even in academic terms the dictionary has one of the definitions of gambling “take risky action in the hope of a desired result”, and therefore even getting in your car is a risk because accident rate is fairly high. Risk is involved in every decision we make to some level and yet most people will not consider those actions gambling. a “risky action” is such a subjective term that there’s no simple and objective definition over what actions are gambling and which aren’t.


Yeah, there is a shitload of that going on in these discussions.


We’re talking about laws here though not some Webster or Oxford definition. This is a regulated industry, heavily, Laws are not static sure, and we challenge them all the time, and we already had a number of lawsuits for sports cards and pokemon, and I think a couple of others, in the USA anyway, attempt to label them as gambling or RICO and those failed.

So since I already know sports card, pokemon, cracker jack toys, tsum, tsum and mystery flavors is not gambling under the current law, I am approaching it as what makes these digital loot boxes different from those and maybe that’s why they might fall into gambling.

Of course, you can always change the law, but thus far no one is exactly asking for that… yet.


Yes, you are talking about laws. I am talking about gambling. Hence why I say we are not having the same discussion.


This discussion started with an article about a Gaming Commission trying to ban digital loot boxes.Don’t you think laws are important for that discussion?


I think this is something that really is in the realm of the parents. At the very least it will hopefully wake up some parents who may not play games what is happening in the games their kids play.

Even if there is regulation, parents could still buy these types of game for their kids so parental awareness of the issue is the first step.


There is an old phrase for loot boxes: A pig in a poke.


If we can’t define something how can we judge it and regulate it (or not regulate it)? There are steps to the evaluative process and skipping or conflating those steps just makes the process of evaluation muddier.

I fully understand that in the modern lexicon gambling has a specific and pejorative connotation, but to really evaluate and activity we need to distance ourselves from that and try to look at things empirically.

In order to decide if MTG is gambling or not we need a definition for gambling. If your definition for gambling is “the law” then MTG can’t be gambling since it isn’t currently deemed so by law. It’s an ineffective measure.

@KallDrexx interesting point. I agree in the broadest sense of the term gambling, driving a car could fall into it. In effect you are betting your life that you will arrive safely.

I would suggest that perhaps to be gambling a) another party is profiting and b) another party is setting your specific odds of getting the desired result. In the case of an accident I don’t think this is true.


And if we continue down that line of thought then the act of just purchasing a game is gambling. When you purchase a game another party is profiting and that party (or at least the original developer) is setting the odds of the desired result (in this case you enjoying your purchase vs how much money and time they spent marketing the chance of you enjoying it). You can mitigate those odds to some extent (reviews) but at the end of the day you may not achieve your desired result.

This then gets even more subjective. Let’s say you can’t pay real money for loot boxes in Overwatch, and let’s say I have always been on the fence but haven’t actually bought Overwatch yet (we can easily say backlog for a legitimate reason). They do a marketing push for halloween skins and I go “Hey these look cool” and buy the game. I play the game and at the end of the event I didn’t get some of the skins that were used for marketing. Now Blizzard has profitted and they set the specific odds of me actually getting the skins I wanted.

Would Overwatch be considered gambling in that case even though 1) a large portion of the players did not portion the game because of the skins, thus would have purchased the game regardless and 2) (in my example) you could not pay real money for more chances at loot boxes. Even if you try to work around to say that the loot box mechanic itself is gambling (minus the lack of profiting nature of the example) then does that mean if a game has a tangental gambling mechanic that the whole game is considered to be gambling?

(The no real money loot box isn’t a theoretical example either since AC:O does just that).

So I still believe that even in an academic sense that outside of obvious examples (casino games), asking multiple people what’s gambling and what isn’t is immensely subjective and everyone will give different answers. A lot of why that is I think will be about more about the reasons why someone is doing an action.

Casino games are easy to classify as gambling because the core reason people are spending money is to try and get more money back. Video games become more subjective because most people aren’t buying loot boxes to try and win more money (some do but not the majority), they buy the loot boxes because for them it will equate to more enjoyment of the game (or so they hope). That makes it a lot harder to pin point why it qualifies as gambling and it becomes much more about your opinion of what result is desired.


I think the issue is that loot box like schemes appear to target kids. Grown ass men can waste their money (see Star Citizen) in any way they please, but kids… it’s not even gambling, it’s enticing them to spend excessive money (thousands of dollars?) without parental consent.


If BF2 is gambling then sure, Overwatch is gambling too. I don’t like how Overwatch handles lootboxes either. Paying for random rewards sucks.

But like I said earlier I don’t actually care all that much about the gambling bit. I care about the P2W bit. Once you sell anything other than cosmetics, you should be inflicted with a million papercuts and then be sealed in a vat of lemon juice until you suffocate on your own evil.

That applies to F2P “games”, too. Fuck those “games”. P2W is less unacceptable without an up-front price, but I would never, ever, touch that shit either. They’re exploitative and reprehensible.


No. The question of whether something is covered by existing gambling laws is both deeply regional (since laws are different from region to region) and ultimately something that lawyers will decide. It’s a technicality that we lay people (I’m just assuming you’re not a lawyer in this field here, mea culpa if you are) aren’t qualified to decide and have no impact on anyway.

The question of whether something should be regulated and how is a different one, and I think a lot more interesting to have in a discussion forum. And I think it’s useful to start by identifying what is actually gambling, not just what the law currently covers. We can then consider whether the legal definition should be extended - or otherwise altered, as well.


What I am saying is the court of laws has already defined gambling. It’s not up for a debate. Our laws are based on how they interpreted what gambling means, and they already decided sports cards, pokemon, etc. do not count. It is not a question of whether or not those are gambling, the question is whether the loot boxes fall in that group or something else. If it’s something else, then maybe it will be defined as gambling.

The question of whether the previously mentioned group should be regulated and is gambling, has already been answered, in more than one region, and via more than one case, and they did not qualify as gambling.

And yes, court systems define and redefine and clarify definitions all the time. It’s part of what they do. They determine what a person actually means in the sense of the law, how we rule, how we function… not dictionaries…