Reading Time: 4 minutes
Belgian Gaming Commission lays groundwork for prosecution as Belgian justice minister meets with stakeholders to find an alternative
The Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) has suggested that criminal prosecution should be undertaken against Electronic Arts, Valve, and Activision Blizzard over loot boxes in their respective games.
With the release of its research report on loot boxes,the BGC has clearly defined the parameters of what does and does not constitute gambling, and the ways in which FIFA 18, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch each contravene the legislation.
The report lays out recommendations of what steps should be taken next to handle the issue.
Although the BGC has suggested criminal prosecution first and foremost, it will not proceed until Belgian minister of justice Koen Geens has met with industry stakeholders to begin a dialogue on the issue.
Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, BGC director Peter Naessens said: “We are going to take all preparatory measures for the drafting of police reports, but it’s not going to be tomorrow. There is a certain amount of time for the minister of justice, but it’s not unlimited.” – Peter Naessens, Belgian Gaming Commission director
Other recommendations from the BGC include developing specific permits for video games that feature loot boxes, and marking them accordingly. This is coupled with the suggestion of age verification in stores when purchasing codes or gift cards, and a principal ban on minors being able to purchase games featuring the mechanic.
Regarding distributors and operators, the BGC recommended that a clear indication of winning odds be provided and that its technical assessment team be granted complete control over the random number generators used for loot boxes.
Additional provisions over player data and payments were recommended, along with the introduction of a user spending limit.
License holders such as FIFA and Disney were also pulled up by the BGC, which suggested such companies pay closer attention to the sort of mechanics appearing in their games.
Unlike the Netherlands’ recent decision regarding loot boxes, the Belgian ruling does not consider the option to sell or trade the contents of loot boxes as an important factor when determining whether or not the mechanic might constitute gambling.
The BGC defines gambling as any game whereby a wager can lead to loss or win for at least one of the players, and where chance may even have a secondary role in the course of the game, the winner, or size of the winnings.
While its definition may appear less applicable to loot boxes than the Netherlands Gaming Authority, the BGC clearly defined the many ways in which the offending games are in breach of the legislation.
Taking Overwatch as an example: using real money, players can purchase loot boxes containing random collectable items, which constitutes a wager. The chance of a win or a loss concerns the wager itself versus the value of the items in the box. Despite being entirely aesthetic and not tradeable outside of the game, the items have player-ascribed value that is altered by artificial scarcity, limited edition items, and the four categories of rarity.
As Blizzard does not allow players to purchase credits directly, they are encouraged to purchase loot boxes containing in-game currency in order to obtain items faster than they would by just playing the game.
“The chance of losing your wager (the cost of the loot box) is, of course, ever-present now that testimonies and research have shown that players have a substantial chance of obtaining an object or item that they already own,” the report reads.
“Both in the purchase of loot boxes and in the entire operation of the game, all of this can lead to pure manipulation of individuals or groups of players” – Research Report on Loot Boxes, Belgian Gaming Commission
The BGC calculated that, should a player wish to collect every item, they would have to open somewhere between 1,300 and 1,600 loot boxes.
Considering the aspect of chance, things become a little murkier, though the BGC is operating on the understanding that players believe the content is determined by chance, even if there were no odds communicated directly.
“Both in the purchase of loot boxes and in the entire operation of the game, all of this can lead to pure manipulation of individuals or groups of players,” the report reads. “The line between encouragement and manipulation is sometimes difficult to differentiate in an online environment where one party (game manufacturer/game platform) records almost everything and the consumer who plays the game rather passively from this perspective.”
Blizzard did not respond to the commission’s requests for more information.
Many within the games industry have criticised the assumption that loot boxes which do not contain items of monetary value outside of the game constitute gambling, drawing comparisons to collectible card games such as Pokémon or Magic the Gathering.
“It might be considered as gambling, but in our legislation there is an exception for it,” Naessens told GamesIndustry.biz. “So Pokémon cards, if they are going to introduce a wheel of fortune, roulette, or a blackjack game in order to determine the contents, it will also be problematic and we will examine it as well.
“But in our legislation, card or party games are exempt from gambling [legislation]. If Pokémon cards were to introduce the gambling element to their game, it would be very problematic as well.”
Essentially, the BGC argues that players are “lured into betting money through loot boxes with a range of techniques”.
When making the decision, the BGC considered aspects such as social behaviour monitoring, as demonstrated with the “exploratory” patent filed recently by Activision which is designed to encourage microtransaction spending through player monitoring.
“If [Pokémon card] are going to introduce a wheel of fortune, roulette, or a blackjack game in order to determine the contents, it will also be problematic and we will examine it as well.” – Peter Naessens, Belgian Gaming Commission director
Other considerations include the “fusion of fiction and reality”, highlighting the use of the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo to advertise the most expensive loot boxes in EA Sports’ FIFA and “whitewashing the behaviour of the super-rich in the football world or the possibility of match-fixing”.
Tying into this point is the use of limited edition items to drive loot box sales, and the use of game-specific currencies that are “psychologically very sophisticated” and fully disconnect the value of real money from the value of in-game currency.
Game operators failing to enforce a spending limit, combined with readily giving away free loot boxes in order to attract players was also considered a dangerous aspect of the mechanic.
Despite a recent assertion from Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson that FIFA 18 loot boxes do not constitute gambling, the clock is ticking and the publishing giant, along with Valve and Activision Blizzard, will invariably have to make changes or forgo the Belgian market entirely.
Although progress will be slow, momentum is gathering as gambling legislators from around the world turn their gaze towards the issue of loot boxes. According to Naessens, BGC has been in contact with officals in Spain, Germany, Finland, America, and Asia.
Source: European Gaming News
Could UK Government Policy Threaten Online Betting Promos?
Most observers would agree that the UK political class is pursuing a dialogue on the very nature of the gambling industry. The headline issue is, of course, fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT’s), which have been the focus of a huge campaign. This week the UK Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, announced that the maximum stake in these gaming machines will be cut dramatically starting in October 2019. The move has cross-party support, and even the gambling industry has been vocally supportive, knowing that it at least makes sense from a PR perspective to seem concerned about the issue.
However, FOBT’s are not the only issue being discussed about the industry in the UK, with some changes perhaps having a big impact on punters. Advertising has come under scrutiny recently, with an almost saturated feel to the volume of sports betting adverts played on television during events like Premier League games. Sky, the UK’s dominant figure in sports broadcasting, has agreed to ‘regulate itself’ and limit the number of betting adverts beginning at the start of the 2019 Premier League season.
The move by Sky, while seemingly commendable as they will lose out on a chunk of the estimated £460 million gambling companies spend on advertising in the UK, is also indicative of the fact that the landscape is changing. The Labour Party, in particular, has signalled that they will try to put curbs on many aspects of the industry should they win the next election. For example, Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, has called for a ban on funding accounts with credit cards and any advertising during live sports events.
However, one area that will be keenly watched by casino players and bettors is that of promotions. Incentives like free bets, price boosts, reload bonuses and the rest are the “carrot” that usually acts as a tipping point to encourage a player to join a new site, but they are certainly not the only reason why people bet. If a Government decides that promotions force people to bet, rather than supplement a decision that has already been made, could they too be in the firing line as the UK authorities try to further regulate the industry?
Free bets offers popular with punters
One would argue that would come to the detriment of the customer, rather than the industry. Consider how a punter might want to bet with William Hill on Real Madrid at 12/1 to win the Champions League, or the Boston Celtics at 7/1 with Bet365 to win the NBA Championships; they could check a list of free bet no deposit 2018 offers and potentially make their bet for free. Is it fair to take away those incentives from the customer?
There is a fine line between the idea of a promotion and the “bet now!” command that is being looked at by the Advertising Standards Agency, but it’s hard to know where that line will be drawn in the future. Punters would be irate to learn that they can’t, for example, go to a bookie and find an incentive like a price boost on the current odds of 12/1 for Chelsea to win the Premier League.
In the end though, money usually settles these matters. While the UK Government has made moves on FOBTs, it was slow-acting because bookmaker shops were keen to point out that those betting terminals equate to jobs. 2017/18 was estimated to have raised £2.8 billion in gaming tax receipts for the UK Exchequer. The Government will be loath to jeopardise that income. The point is: if the bookies can make their case, those promos will be here to stay.
Pragmatic Play roars to life with 5 lions
New release sees ancient spirits guarding amazing riches
15 June 2018: Pragmatic Play, the multi-award-winning games provider, has announced the launch of 5 Lions, a 3×5 video slot steeped in myth and legend.
Chinese iconography lights up the reels of 5 Lions, with turtles, phoenixes and dragons appearing covered in glittering gemstones.
The mystical lions of the game’s title act as the wild symbols, granting the player a random multiplier of up to 40x and springing to life when they appear in any winning line.
Melissa Summerfield, Chief Commercial Officer at Pragmatic Play, said: “Our suite of high quality games continues to go from strength to strength, and 5 Lions is a great addition that we are proud to introduce to our partners and players.
“The game’s mystical air is complemented by an engaging and visually satisfying array of bonus content, and it certainly has the potential to keep players coming back.”
Three gilded yin-yang symbols unlock 5 Lions unique free spins feature, expanding the three central reels to four symbols in height and boosting the potential ways to win from 243 to 576.
Players then have the opportunity to choose between seven lions, offering a wide selection of different multiplier ranges. These options range from six free spins with a range of high multipliers (15x, 30x, or 40x) to 25 free spins with a range of lower multipliers (2x, 3x, or 5x).
Pragmatic Play’s portfolio contains more than 80 proven HTML5 video slots, including Wolf Gold, Chilli Heat and The Champions. These titles are now live with a growing list of leading casino brands, including Mr Green, Betsson and LeoVegas.
For more information on this release or to arrange an interview please contact Tom Lewis at Square in the Air on 020 3586 8257 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Pragmatic Play
Pragmatic Play is one of the fastest growing providers of slots games in the online gaming industry. It has proven expertise in creating mobile and desktop content that engages modern players. Its expanding portfolio features more than 80 proven HTML5 titles, which support 26 languages and all major currencies, and are built on unique in-house designs.
The provider’s games are attuned to the needs of players and operators in regulated markets all over the world and are now a fixture on many of the leading casino brands.
For more information please visit http://pragmaticplay.com/
Source: European Gaming News
21Bet upgrades Sportsbook with Digitain
Reading Time: 2 minutes
June 15th, 2018 – Digitain the multi-channel casino and sports betting platform provider confirmed that Malta-licensed 21Bet had been successfully migrated to Digitain’s fully managed sportsbook solution.
21Bet is operated by Aureate Gaming Solutions Ltd and is also the official shirt sponsors of Waterford FC. Under the agreement, Digitain provided its API technology for 21Bet’s online operations including a new improved version of their sportsbook, with features that include cash out, edit my bet, and express bonus and the latest promotional tools for player marketing acquisition and retention.
Digitain CEO, Suren Khachatryan, said: “21Bet is a growing brand in Europe and we are delighted to be their technology partner of choice. Digitain’s frictionless API integration along with our fully managed Sportsbook will deliver 21Bet with enhanced user experience and over 30,000 real live monthly events and full coverage of the most popular sports in Pre-match and Live Betting, and cash out options. 21Bet will also have access to the latest World Cup content zone, including team news, standings, and head-2-head to further engage players throughout this year’s largest betting tournament.”
James Hudson CEO at 21bet, said: “Our company’s vision is to have the optimal strategic partnership with our technology providers. Digitain has a proven international and European market expertise, and their technology allows our brand to be agile and flexible, and in control of our roadmap to adapt to ever-changing market conditions and player preferences. The Digitain team are a delight to work with and they made the migration to our new sportsbook as smooth as silk! ”
Digitain has more than 1,000 employees, 35+ global partners, and more than 400 betting shops worldwide.
The multi-channel Digitain Gaming Platform allows for a frictionless turnkey or white-label solution for both land-based and online operators via our API’s to integrate a sportsbook, casino, live dealer, and virtual sports modules. The stack also includes an extensive payment gateway, bonus engine, CRM system, and dedicated customer support 24/7.
The sportsbook product covers 30,000 live events each month, across 65 sports taking in 7,500 leagues, and more than 3,000 betting markets, while our casino solution has 3,000+ games from the likes of NetEnt, Microgaming, and Playson and many more.
Source: European Gaming News
Romanian Investors to Relaunch and Turn Lebada Luxury Resort & Spa into Casino
Swedish iGaming Market Posts a Turnover of €313.8 Million in Q1
Iowa House Passes the Bill to Legalise Sports Betting
Japan Approves New Scheme to Stem Problems Related to Gambling
Yggdrasil brings magic to the reels and blackjack table with Dr Fortuno
SoftGamings to Take Part in G2E Asia 2019
Toro Bet selects Hard Metrics for Mexico launch
NetEnt heads back to the wild west with Dead or Alive 2TM – the sequel to one its most iconic games
SPIRIT GAMING Signs Partnership Deal with Moniko
Reflex Gaming’s B3 offering set to ‘level the playing field’
Follow us on Twitter
Affiliate Succes2 months ago
PartnerMatrix powers TotoGaming Affiliate Program
Latest News2 months ago
As the dust settles for Sweden’s online casino market
Latest News2 months ago
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain Holds Historic Topping Off Ceremony
Latest News6 days ago
Gambling Operators Gets Opportunity to Register Online Casinos in Belarus
Latest News2 months ago
Gambling regulation bill introduced in Armenia
Latest News2 months ago
Casinos Market Outlook and Worldwide Opportunities 2019 -2025
Latest News2 months ago
Microgaming inks deal with Crazy Tooth Studio embark on icy adventures in Arctic Valor
Latest News2 months ago
BETDAQ Exchange launches BETDAQPro.com