April 23, 2018

Tradeable loot boxes declared illegal in the Netherlands

Filed under: Gaming by Branko Collin @ 1:55 pm

toy-cars-branko-collinIn a study released last week, The Netherlands Gaming Authority (NGA) has concluded that some video games are breaking the law by offering so-called loot boxes.

Loot boxes are in-game purchases in which the buyer does not know what is in the box until after the purchase. A box can contain in-game items such as cosmetic changes to one’s avatar, as well as items that make playing easier.

The NGA uses two factors to decide the legality of loot boxes. If chance determines the contents of a loot box and if loot boxes can be traded outside the game environment, the loot box is in violation of Dutch gambling laws. The NGA is giving manufacturers the opportunity to improve their loot box systems. From 20 June 2018 onwards, the authority will start taking measures against non-compliant manufacturers.

According to NOS, four games from NGA’s study that contain transferable loot boxes are Fifa18, Dota2, PubG and Rocket League.

Earlier this month South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission fined four local video game companies for allegedly deceptive loot box promotions, The Korea Herald writes.

You can read the NGA’s report in English at its website (PDF).

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September 22, 2014

Dutch state lottery open to abuse; state tipped off lottery about investigation

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 7:57 pm

[Photo of children wearing inflatable crowns]The Greek firm that runs the lottery for Staatsloterij (the Dutch state lottery) is susceptible to fraud, Volkskrant writes.

Several former employees of the company, called Intralot, told the newspaper last Saturday that they are capable of removing lottery numbers from the draw. Since this would happen after Staatsloterij has sold the tickets, this doesn’t change the amount of money that can be won, but it does change the chances each player has of winning. As long as the same percentage of winners is distributed equally across regions, ages, and so on as the percentage of players, Staatsloterij has no way of knowing if tickets have been doctored and if so, which ones.

Gambling is strictly regulated in the Netherlands, a monopoly kept by the government under the guise of protecting citizens from addiction.

An investigation has been started into the vulnerability by the Dutch gambling authority. Due to an unfortunate accident the Ministry of Finance tipped off Staatsloterij before the investigation started, Volkskrant adds in a second article. As the Dutch saying goes, ‘where people work hard, people make mistakes’. Other examples of instances where the government made mistakes are the two black boxes that disappeared from the site of the Bijlmer disaster and the lost film of the Srebrenica massacre. Do you know of any other country where the government works this hard?

(Photo of young children wearing colourful inflatable Staatsloterij crowns by Orangemaster)

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June 23, 2012

Lottery forced to pay after judge finds advertisement misleading

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 12:11 pm

You know those lottery ads where in big print it says you’ve won and then somewhere in the small print it says you haven’t won at all, except perhaps for the right to hand over your cash?

Well, one Dutch judge thought enough was enough and has found for six plaintiffs who thought they had won 2,500 euro each.

In a letter that the winners received in October 2010 from Postcode Loterij, the impression was given that the recipients were guaranteed winners if the two unique codes they received with the letter matched the codes printed in a table (see illustration). Once they had sent in their coupons, only one plaintiff received a minor prize and the other five received a lottery ticket—clearly not what they had expected.

The small print said that participants only had a chance of winning the prize, but judge Pauline van der Kolk-Nunes quickly disposed of the T&C: “[The letter] will raise an expectation with the average consumer that they have won a prize […] and that the table shows which prize they have won. The codes and the table are unlikely to have any other meaning. [The small print] contradicts the core of the agreement, which is: you will receive a gift.”

Karma can be cruel.

Postcode Loterij is planning to appeal the decision.

See also: The battle to outlaw poker rages on

(Illustration: iusmentis.com / Postcode Loterij. The text reads: “Do you have one of these codes on your lucky coin? And do you have a valid gift code? Then you will receive one of these gifts, guaranteed. Which gift is yours?”)

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August 10, 2010

The battle to outlaw poker rages on

Filed under: Gaming,General by Orangemaster @ 10:57 am

Back in July, an organiser of a Texas Hold’em poker game in The Hague was found not guilty, as his tournament was considered a game of skill rather than a game of chance. This, of course, irritated the Attorney General who wants to outlaw these poker games and is appealing the decision. Since the government has a monopoly on games of chance, it is missing out on this poker money.

In the mean time, while the Dutch have been months without a government (we had elections, but the parties can’t agree who will form the coalition), a café in the town of Glane in Twente is playing poker to its heart’s content. The current (‘demissionary’) Minister of Justice told the café to stop, but the court ruling is still on the café’s side: poker is currently considered a game of skill and not a game of chance.

So, the question still stands: will poker games be outlawed or will the appeal work? First, a new government and then we’ll see.

(Link: depers.nl)

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July 3, 2010

Poker considered game of skill by court

Filed under: Gaming,General,Sports by Branko Collin @ 2:15 pm

Against heavy odds, a poker tournament organiser was declared not guilty by the criminal court of The Hague last Friday, Algemeen Dagblad reports.

Earlier judgements, including one of the Dutch High Court had, held that poker is a game of chance. The defendant, who had organised a Texas Hold’em tournament in The Hague in 2006, argued successfully to the contrary.

The three judges weighed expert opinion, the opinions within the poker community (the prosecution had claimed that poker was generally considered a game of chance), and the opinion of the defendant. The court also held that a general principle of law such as presumption of innocence had to be adhered to: the prosecution was expected to show scientific evidence that poker is not a game of skill.

Finally when looking at the little scientific evidence available, the court favoured the research by Peter Born and Ben van der Genugten (2009) over psychologist W.A. Wagenaar’s study. The latter argued that whether a poker game is a game of chance also depends on the individual players’ perception of the game. The judges felt that this made Wagenaar’s model unsuitable for predicting whether a specific game or tournament is a game of chance.

In the Netherlands, the government has the monopoly over games of chance.

Are there any lawyers in the house willing to predict what this verdict will mean for future poker tournaments in the Netherlands?

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May 23, 2008

Man wins 980,000 euro in casino poker game

Filed under: Gaming,General by Branko Collin @ 6:26 pm

Last Tuesday a man won 980,000 euro in a poker game at the Holland Casino in Rotterdam. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, played a relatively rare variant of the game called Caribbean Stud Poker in which part of the winnings go into a jackpot. A royal flush managed to help pry loose the contents of this jackpot.

Owner Holland Casino, the state-owned and only legal casino company in the Netherlands, declared that this was the highest jackpot in Rotterdam ever.

(Link: Z24 (Dutch), Photo by Jam Adams, some rights reserved)

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