Weerwind floats possible Dutch loot box ban

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The remarks were made in a response to parliamentary questioning by Sovcialist Party MP Michael Van Nispen. Van Nispen quizzed Weerwind on a number of issues regarding the video game feature, including the potential for future regulation.

Weerwind said that the government was considering a number of policy recommendations:

“This includes the adopted motion by member [Henri] Bontenbal, who requests the cabinet to look for a possibility to ban loot boxes in games in the Netherlands and to amend the law where there is a need to do so.”

The questioning follows a March ruling by a Dutch court that loot boxes are not a form of gambling, overturning a penalty issued by Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) to video game studio EA. The decision was made by Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State, part of the District Court of the Hague.

Under the initial KSA interpretation, loot boxes were considered a prohibited form of gambling, but the Council of State ruling effectively legalised the products again.

Weerwind also responded to questioning by Mirjam Bikker, a member of ChristenUnie, regarding the sponsorship deal between football club Ajax and gambling operator Unibet.

Bikker pressed the minister on a spectrum of issues relevant to the sponsorship agreement, such as the possible deleterious effects on young people, the normalisation of gambling, and gambling addiction.

While Weerwind said that as minister he had no opinion on individual sponsorship agreements, nonetheless he said he shared “general concerns about the impact of sponsorship for online gambling on vulnerable groups.”

The parliamentary questioning comes in the context of a national rethink of gambling policy within the Netherlands – an upcoming ban on all “untargeted” ads for online gambling.

The ban includes provisions for the banning of all gambling sponsorship of television and events by 2024, and of all sports shirts and venues, such as the Ajax-Unibet deal, by 2025.

The Dutch regulated market is less than a year old, having launched in October 2021.

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