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The ESRB may have said that loot boxes don’t qualify as gambling for its game-rating system, but the board’s European equivalent is deferring its judgment on the topic to the national gambling commissions themselves.
In a statement offered to Wccftech, Pan-European Game Information operations director Dirk Bosmans explained that the ratings board is more concerned with digital acts of gambling that simulate or teach real-life gambling methods than the sale of chance-based goodie bags.
While some have argued that the practice of repeatedly buying loot boxes in hopes of getting rare in-game times is similar in essence to pulling the handle of a slot machine while seeking a jackpot, in Bosmans mind, it is first up to national gambling commissions to define buying random chance loot boxes as an act of gambling. If such a decision was made, he explains, PEGI would reevaluate its stance accordingly.
“In short, our approach is similar to that of ESRB (I think all rating boards do, USK in Germany as well). The main reason for this is that we cannot define what constitutes gambling,” Bosman told Wccftech. “That is the responsibility of a national gambling commission. Our gambling content descriptor is given to games that simulate or teach gambling as it’s done in real life in casinos, racetracks, etc. If a gambling commission would state that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then we would have to adjust our criteria to that.”
While similar in effect, this is notably a different stance than the one taken by the ESRB just days ago. A representative from the Entertainment Software Rating Board explained that the organization considers loot boxes more similar to a pack of trading cards than actual gambling since purchasers are guaranteed to receive in-game gear in exchange for money spent.