European gambling regulators converge on the ‘blurring’ of gambling and gaming

Loot boxes, unlicensed websites and more

Fifteen gambling regulatory bodies in Europe, along with Washington State, are coming together to discuss the “risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling”.

Various countries including Spain, the UK, Malta, France, Austria, Ireland and others are joining an ever-increasing band of national governments shining a spotlight of in-game trends such as loot boxes, as well as unlicensed third-party websites that sell rare skins and other in-game items.

“We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children,” stated Neil McCarthy, Chief Executive of the UK’s Gambling Commission. “We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.”

This group movement is part of a recent string of news stories concerning in-game purchases, which has seen countries such as Belgium force the removal of paid loot boxes in titles such as Blizzard’s Overwatch and card packs from NBA 2K titles. While the new European movement is targeting third-party sellers first and foremost, they have stated that they will look into in-game purchases to ensure it does not constitute gambling under law.

The full list of signatories to the new motion is as follows:

  • Austria: Alfred Hacker, Director, Federal Ministry of Finance
  • Czech Republic: Karel Blaha, Director of the State Oversight Over Gambling Department
  • France: Charles Coppolani, Chair of the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority
  • Gibraltar: Andrew Lyman, Executive Director, Gambling Division, HM Government of Gibraltar
  • Ireland: Brendan Mac Namara, Principal Officer, Gambling Policy Division, Department of Justice and Equality of Ireland
  • Isle of Man: Steve Brennan, Chief Executive, Gambling Supervision Commission
  • Jersey: Jason Lane, Chief Executive, Jersey Gambling Commission
  • Latvia: Signe Birne, Director of Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of Latvia
  • Malta: Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer, Malta Gaming Authority
  • The Netherlands: Jan Suyver, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Gambling Authority
  • Norway: Henrik Nordal, Director Deputy General, Norwegian Gaming Authority
  • Poland: Paweł Gruza, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Finance
  • Portugal: Teresa Monteiro, Vice-President of Turismo de Portugal, I.P
  • Spain: Juan Espinosa García, CEO, Directorate General for Gambling Regulation
  • Washington State: David Trujillo, Director, Washington State Gambling Commission
  • UK: Neil McArthur, Chief Executive Officer, UK Gambling Commission
Chris Moyse
Senior Editor - Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s. Former Saturday Night Slam Master. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors.