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Compliance Updates

U.S. FTC to conduct public workshop for examining consumer protection issues surrounding loot boxes

Niji Narayan

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U.S. FTC to conduct public workshop for examining consumer protection issues surrounding loot boxes
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The United States’ Federal Trade Commission has announced that it will be holding a public workshop in August 2019, to examine consumer protection issues surrounding video game loot boxes. The workshop will be attended by stakeholders including industry representatives, consumer rights advocates, and government officials among others.

The FTC has said that its August workshop will cover the following topics:

The in-game transaction landscape, including the origins and evolution of loot boxes and their role in game play and the digital marketplace;

Research examining consumer behaviour, including child and adolescent behaviour, in the context of video games and digital transactions; and

A discussion of consumer awareness and education about in-game digital transactions, including the mechanics, marketing, and financial commitments associated with loot boxes.

The workshop will be open to the public and free to attend so players who want to voice their concerns can head over to the Constitution Center at 400 7th St., SW, Washington, D.C. Those who cannot attend will be given the opportunity to watch the workshop online.

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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Latvian Parliament Approves Amendments to Gambling Laws

Niji Narayan

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Latvian Parliament Approves Amendments to Gambling Laws
Photo Source: saeima.lv
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Saeima, the parliament from Latvia, has approved the amendments in the final reading of the Law on Lotteries and Gambling Fee and Tax. The tax revenue from gambling that the state perceives has increased from 75% to 95%.

The amendments were designed to increase tax revenue for the state and help cover budget gaps. Before the amendments, the state budget received 75% from gambling tax revenue, while 25% went to municipalities’ budget. During the first reading, parliament members suggested to increase the state’s percentage to 90%, but the coalition agreed on 95%.

Other amendments, which will come into force with the gambling law in 2020, establish that gambling tax rate for roulette, cards and dice games will rise from €23.4k to €28k a year. Tax for gambling machines will increase from €4.1k to €5.1k.

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Compliance Updates

Swedish Government may Implement New Restrictions on Loot Boxes

Niji Narayan

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Swedish Government may Implement New Restrictions on Loot Boxes
Photo Source: thelocal.se
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Swedish Consumer Agency Konsumentverket has submitted a report that warned of the video game feature’s potential risks for children and the vulnerable to the country’s Gaming Market Commission Spelmarknadsutredningen. The report compiles a series of recommendations for reducing the negative effects of gambling in the country.

In its report, the Konsumentverket acknowledged that many had highlighted the similarity between loot boxes and real-money gaming. While it said the mechanic of buying an item without knowing what it was did not constitute gambling, it noted that if that item could then be exchanged for cash, this could fall under the remit of the Gaming Act.

“It is difficult to estimate the extent of any consumer problems caused by loot boxes in the Swedish market. There are individual cases that have attracted attention from the media both in Sweden and abroad, where adults or children have spent large sums on the purchase of loot boxes. Neither the Konsumentverket nor the Swedish Gaming Authority (Spelinspektionen), however, have received more than a few notifications or questions from the public regarding loot boxes. Various factors highlighted as similar are imagery and sound effects, high availability, the ability to play alone at home, the short time between betting and outcome and the fact players can easily get stuck in the game and lose all sense of time and money being spent,” the report said.

Sweden’s Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi said it was important to ensure that consumers were properly protected.

“The fact that computer and video games are of great interest to children and young people makes the issue extra important,” Shekarabi said.

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Compliance Updates

Seller of illegal streaming devices jailed for three months and fined $166,200 in landmark case

George Miller

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Seller of illegal streaming devices jailed for three months and fined $166,200 in landmark case
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An electronics retailer in Singapore has been convicted of selling illegal streaming devices (ISDs), which provided access to illegal broadcasts of Premier League football and other entertainment content.

Synnex Trading and its Director Jia Xiaofeng were today found guilty of four criminal charges of copyright infringement. Jia was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail and ordered to pay a fine of $5,400 and Synnex Trading was ordered to pay a fine of $160,800.

Jia, who masterminded the operation, sold streaming devices, commonly known as Android TV boxes, from his electronics store on Geylang Road. The boxes were found to have been loaded with apps providing unauthorised access to films, TV shows, video-on-demand and live sports including Premier League football. These ISDs were falsely advertised to the public as legal and containing legitimately sourced content.

Today’s conviction follows the sentencing of another supplier in connection with this case. In April, the company director of local retailer An-Nahl was fined after pleading guilty to one criminal charge of copyright infringement. These are the first ever successful prosecutions of ISD sellers in Singapore.

The Premier League, Singtel, StarHub and Fox Networks Group prosecuted these two landmark cases against ISD sellers in Singapore.

Premier League Director of Legal Services Kevin Plumb said:  “This case shows there are serious consequences for sellers of illegal streaming devices and that the Premier League will prosecute those responsible for the piracy of our content.  This sentencing shows that this is not a grey area, and that selling these devices is against the law.

“We have fantastic passionate fans in Singapore and we are protecting those who watch Premier League content in the right way. Those who don’t, leave themselves open to a number of risks including becoming victims of fraud or identity theft.

“We have a team based in our Singapore office committed to protecting our intellectual property rights and fighting piracy and we will continue to investigate and pursue all suppliers of illegal streaming services in the region.”

The complainant in this case was Mr Neil Gane, the General Manager of Coalition Against Piracy.

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