Spain launches public consultation on tricky loot box judgement

By | March 18, 2021

Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs has launched a public consultation seeking guidance on how to ‘modify the Gaming Law’ to include loot boxes as a gambling vertical. 

The consultation has been launched with the primary focus of updating Spain’s gambling laws to allow regulatory agencies to judge consumer interactions on in-game purchases and incentives that require a financial transaction.

An appeal for a consultation on loot boxes was first requested by DGOJ President Mikel Arana last November, citing public health concerns on gaming addiction and further compulsive behaviours, primarily affecting Spain’s youth.

Arana’s request to review loot boxes carried the support of Spain’s joint ‘Commission on Addiction‘ and the ‘Responsible Gaming Advisory Council’ advising the DGOJ on public policies.

As the department charged with overseeing Spanish gambling laws, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has stated that the consultation will define whether loot box transactions can be regulated within the legislative frameworks set by Spain’s Gaming Law – which was last updated in 2011.

Further remits will focus on whether video game publishers will require to apply for licences should their games feature loot boxes.

In addition, the Ministry seeks to determine which in-game rewards can be defined as a gambling function and whether video games publishers should pay a levy on their customer transactions.

“The loot box phenomenon can have potentially dangerous effects on certain groups of players,” the consultation document stated. “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.”

Spain becomes the latest EU member state to launch a public consultation on loot box laws, standards and protections – following Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

Consumer protections related to loot boxes have become a prominent topic amongst EU member states due to the lack of transparent regulation governing in-game mechanics.

However, the EU’s ‘Internal Market Council’ deemed loot box regulations as a complex matter to harmonise, as individual member states maintained separate gambling laws differing in judgements to what should be perceived as ‘games of chance’ mechanics.