Spanish Minister proposes ‘specific law’ amid loot box ambiguity

Spain loot box
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Alberto Garzon, Spain’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, has pledged to make Spain the first European country to have a ‘specific law’ governing loot box and video game incentives.

Speaking at a video games seminar hosted by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which is leading the federal overhaul of Spain’s gambling laws, Garzon declared that a draft legislative decree on loot boxes, making Spain a ‘pioneer in Europe’, was on the way.

Entangled with existing gambling regulations, the rules surrounding loot box incentives, commercial engagements and consumer disputes have frustrated regulatory agencies across Europe.

In March, EA Sports – the game developer behind the FIFA Football series, the world’s best-selling sports game – saw its €10m penalty rescinded by the Hague Commercial Court of the Netherlands.

Reviewing Europe’s highest-profile loot box dispute to date, the Hague Court ruled against Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit’s (KSA) original judgement that FIFA loot boxes could be interpreted as ‘games of chance’ reward.

Garzon acknowledged the current regulatory constraints governing loot boxes, in which Spain will become the first EU member state to propose a ‘specific law’ related to video game prizes and consumer engagements.

The decree aims to recognise loot boxes as “devices that have an economic value in a real or fictitious market and whose random prize can be resold or exchanged, including the famous NFTs or cryptocurrencies.”

Legislation has been prioritised by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, as 2021 data from Spain’s National Drugs Council, cited that three-out-of-10 students had spent money buying loot boxes or in-game accessories. 

Speaking to Spanish stakeholders, Garzon stated that the Ministry would propose a clear distinction between loot box designs and games of chance mechanisms that reflect traditional gambling engagements.

“We are legislating for an open model that allows the player to pay for improvements that will probably provide him with more leisure but, probably, also more competitive elements,” said Garzon.

The decree on loot boxes will be maintained as a separate task from the ongoing overhaul of Spain’s gambling laws, in which the ministry is currently finalising ‘phase-2’ of federal changes focused on developing a centralised player registry and self-exclusion system.