The Belgian government has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into FIFA developer EA over a potential breach of gambling laws active in the country.
Earlier this year, the country's Gaming Commission declared that loot boxes present in Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and EA's FIFA 18 would be examined under Belgian gambling laws. Described as an "illegal game of chance" by the Commission, the loot boxes could be deemed illegal for failing to ensure that minors aren't subjected to gambling, with the unknown nature of the loot boxes' rewards being to blame.
The news comes from Belgium publication Metro, which states that the Gaming Commission follows the belief that "players do not know exactly what the [loot box] contains when they make a purchase", with a player's happiness being determined by "whether or not you receive a rare object".
In response to this, a handful of developers decided to remove all loot box options from their games in the country, with the likes of Blizzard and 2K Games playing things safe. EA has opted to ignore these warnings, however, resulting in this criminal investigation. The company's CEO, Andrew Wilson, disagrees with the view that FIFA contains any form of gambling, stating that "players always receive a specified number of items in each pack" and that it doesn't "provide or authorise any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money".
According to Metro's report, the case is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Brussels public prosecutor's office. If it decides to prosecute, the case will go to court. Naturally, legal proceedings such as this can evolve and take place over large periods of time, so it may be some time before we hear of any results. Interestingly, FIFA 19 is still expected to include loot boxes, although all odds for potential items will be disclosed.
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