The Ministry of Consumer Affairs in Spain has opened a public consultation to get input on how to “modify the Gaming Law” to incorporate loot boxes as a gambling vertical.
The consultation was initiated with the aim of modernising Spain’s gaming laws so that regulatory authorities can assess customer experiences with in-game transactions and offers that entail a financial transaction.
Calls to study loot boxes
Last November, DGOJ President Mikel Arana ordered a consultation on loot boxes, citing public health issues regarding gaming abuse and other compulsive habits, which mainly affect Spain’s youth.
The Spanish government’s joint “Commission on Addiction” and the “Responsible Gaming Advisory Council,” which advises the DGOJ on public policy, backed Arana’s call to study loot boxes.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which is in charge of administering Spanish gambling regulations, has announced that the consultation will determine whether loot box sales can be controlled under the legal mechanisms established by Spain’s Gaming Legislation, which was last amended in 2011.
Further duties will include deciding whether or not video game publishers will be forced to apply for licencing if their titles include loot boxes.
In addition, the Ministry wants to know if in-game prizes can be classified as a gambling function, and if video game developers should be required to pay a levy on consumer purchases.
Vulnerable groups at risk
The consultation document read: “The loot box phenomenon can have potentially dangerous effects on certain groups of players. The evident connection of some random reward mechanisms with gambling also brings with it the negative consequences traditionally associated with the latter, which affect, in particular, certain vulnerable groups.”
Following Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, Spain is the newest EU member state to conduct a public consultation on loot box rules, requirements, and security.
Hot topic among EU member states
Owing to the lack of transparent legislation regulating in-game mechanics, consumer rights relating to loot boxes have become a hot topic among EU member states.
Specific member states’ gaming laws differed in their assessments on what could be considered “games of chance” mechanics, according to the EU’s “Internal Market Council,” making loot box legislation a difficult issue to harmonise.