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Compliance Updates

Belgium launches criminal investigation on EA’s FIFA loot boxes

Niji Narayan

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Belgium launches criminal investigation on EA’s FIFA loot boxes
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The Belgian government has initiated a criminal probe into the lootboxes bundled with Electronic Art’s (EA) FIFA game. The government had earlier declared loot boxes to be a form of gambling. However, EA, as the publisher of FIFA, has refused to modify the randomised card pack loot boxes in accordance with the country’s gambling laws, effectively triggering the probe.

Here is a short history of what led to this development. Back in April, Belgium’s Gaming Commission determined that loot boxes found in FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were an “illegal game of chance,” and thus subject to Belgian gambling laws. Failure to adhere to these laws – which include ensuring that minors are unable to access the gambling elements within a game – is illegal.

Following the ruling, Blizzard, Valve, and 2K Games all elected to disable loot boxes in their games in Belgium. EA, however, has done nothing, and as a result (according to Belgium publication Metro, via Google Translate) is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Brussels public prosecutor’s office. If it decides to prosecute, the case will go to court.

The Belgium government’s Gaming Commission considers loot boxes to be a game of chance because players do not know exactly which items a box may contain when purchasing it.

EA, however, says otherwise, stating in April that its games were “developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world” and that it did not agree that its games could “be considered as any form of gambling.”

This, said EA CEO Andrew Wilson in May, is because “players always receive a specified number of items in each pack” and because it doesn’t “provide or authorise any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money.”

Niji Narayan has been in the writing industry for well over a decade or so. He prides himself as one of the few survivors left in the world who have actually mastered the impossible art of copy editing. Niji graduated in Physics and obtained his Master’s degree in Communication and Journalism. He has always interested in sports writing and travel writing. He has written for numerous websites and his in-depth analytical articles top sports magazines like Cricket Today and Sports Today. He reports gaming industry headlines from all around the globe.

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Africa

Mlungisi Mvoko Sees Gaming as Revenue Source for Eastern Cape Province

Niji Narayan

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Photo source: myjewishlearning.com
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Mlungisi Mvoko, member of the executive council for Economic Development, has told that new technologies and gaming could lead to an increase in the revenue base for the Eastern Cape Province.

“It is still our fervent belief that through the infusion of new technologies in the 4th Industrial Revolution and optimal regulation, gaming could lead to an increase in the revenue base of the province,” Mvoko said while attending the 15th Gaming Regulators Africa Forum.

“It comes as no surprise that technology has had a remarkable impact on the gaming industry. So, if you are wondering how technology is impacting the gaming industry then you need to look no further than how a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin has revolutionized the realm of online users,” he added.

The 15th Gaming Regulators Africa Forum, themed “Fourth Industrial Revolution and its Impact on Gaming in Africa,” brings together representatives from countries which include Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The conference focuses on global economy shifts and the impact of this on the global gaming industry. Mvoko told delegates that the shift to legalise gambling and the growth in the sector has benefited provincial treasury.

He said the industry had given consumers an additional choice of recreation, generated considerable tax revenue and increased employment. Mvoko said the provincial economy grew by an estimated R985 million over the last five years as a result of the gambling industry.

The Eastern Cape economy was predominantly driven by car manufacturing and tourism industries. But the ongoing global economic crisis has brought about an indirect decline in both industries.

Mvoko said the gaming and gambling industry must be boosted in a manner that supported and facilitated economic development.

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Compliance Updates

Spain Moves Forward on Gambling Ads Ban

Niji Narayan

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Photo source: casinobeats.com
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The PSOE minority government in Spain is going to accept all the recommendations of Ombudsman Francisco Fernández Marugán to ban gambling advertising.

The Ministry of Finance has accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations. That way, departments would have to enforce new restrictions on the gaming industry. The authorities will soon draft a Royal Decree to establish restrictions on gambling advertising in Spain.

The Ombudsman filed his recommendation with the ministries of Treasury and the Health, Consumer and Welfare. Within the filing, he asked for a complete ban on gambling advertising in Spain.

“kids’ viewing time needs to be clean of gambling ads and no celebrities should be shown advertising gambling,” he said.

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Compliance Updates

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft to Disclose Loot Boxes Odds

Niji Narayan

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The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has revealed that the console makers are working on policies that will require disclosure on loot boxes odds. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are working on policies that would require a loot boxes disclosure on their systems.

“These required disclosures will also apply to game updates if the update adds new loot box features. The precise timing of this disclosure requirement is still being worked out, but the console makers are targeting 2020 for the implementation of the policy,” Michael Warnecke, ESA chief counsel of tech policy said.

The list of member companies that committed to implementing the changes include: Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Wizards of the Coast.

“I’m happy to announce this morning that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony indicated to ESA a commitment to new platform policies with respect to the use of paid loot boxes in games developed for their platform. Specifically, this would apply to new games and game updates that add loot box features. And it would require the disclosure of the relative rarity or probabilities of obtaining randomised virtual items in games that are available on their platforms,” Warnecke said.

“The major console makers are committing to new platform policies that will require paid loot boxes in games developed for their platforms to disclose information on the relative rarity or probability of obtaining randomised virtual items,” Warnecke added.

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