Sweden could classify loot boxes as gambling by early 2019

Sweden has become the latest country to suggest that it could implement some sort of restriction on loot boxes in videogames. Ardalan Shekarabi, the country's Minister for Public Administration, told P3 News that loot boxes could be classified as a form of gambling by 2019, which would subject them to more stringent regulations under Swedish law. 

"We are working to regain control of the gambling market as soon as possible, and to make sure that Swedish consumer protection laws apply to all actors which conduct gambling activities," Shekarabi said in a translation provided by P3. 

Under current Swedish law, loot boxes are not recognized as gambling and so there's no way to legally regulate them. But while Shekarabi emphasized that he is seeking "a closer look into the phenomena of loot boxes to examine whether there is a need for change in legislation," it's clear where he falls on the matter. 

"I don't want to rule out the possibility [of classifying loot boxes as gambling]," he said. "It is obvious that there are many people suffering from gambling addiction, who also get stuck in this type of gambling and lose money because of it." 

A separate P3 News story [Google translated] relates the tale of Oscar Hansson, who said that he's blown (over an indeterminate amount of time) 20-30,000 kr ($2500-$3700) on FIFA Ultimate Team. He's apparently been able to get his habit under control by removing his debit card from his FUT account, but nonetheless described his behavior as "an addiction."   

Per Strömbäck of the Swedish game industry organization Dataspelsbranschen agreed that "it's sad to hear these stories," but suggested that age limits on games—FIFIA Ultimate Team requires players to be at least 16—rather than new legislation is a better way to address the problem. "Adult people are allowed to do what they want with their money," he said. "It's not uncommon that you spend a lot of money on an interest or a hobby."   

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.