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The Spanish gaming regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) has opened a consultation asking whether loot boxes require new regulation, should be regulated as gambling products or be banned outright.

The DGOJ noted that loot boxes “have quickly become a very relevant business model” in both paid and free games.

It is said that about half of mobile games and 35% of computer games contain the mechanics. Loot boxes are items with blind boxes that players purchase for a fee in order to obtain valuable in-game items.

Loot boxes are also said to have many characteristics in common with gambling products, including “near misses” and “losses disguised as wins”.

The regulator stated that under the Spanish Gambling Act, gambling includes payment for entry, the chance to determine the outcome and a prize carried over to the winner.

The DGOJ therefore said that loot boxes could clearly be viewed as a game of chance. This depended on whether the purchase of the box was a different action from the purchase of the game, whether the price was a matter of chance and whether the price could be exchanged for money – inside or outside the game.

“This legal definition, which is known to and adopted by all companies involved in gambling and betting activities, also applies to loot boxes. It doesn’t matter whether this reward is a cosmetic enhancement to the video game or a competitive advantage for the player who is receiving it, ”DGOJ said.

The consultation will last until March 31, with the regulator accepting submission by email.