As the UK gambling commission decides that lootboxes are not gambling the GTA Online casino is in hot water for using real money.
It was always the initial stance of the UK gambling commission that lootboxes and FIFA Ultimate Team packs are not gambling and now it’s reiterated that position in a report to MPs.
Its position is that because there’s no official way to resell the contents of lootboxes it doesn’t legally count as gambling and doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction.
‘There are other examples of things that look and feel like gambling that legislation tells you are not… but because they have free play or free entry they are not gambling… but they are a lot like a lottery,’ said gambling commission boss Neil McArthur.
His comments were made to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee, but that was only a few days before GTA Online opened the long-awaited Diamond Casino & Resort.
It wasn’t clear how the casino was going to work until it was live in the game but players have now discovered that you can buy in-game gambling chips directly using in-game currency, which can itself be bought using real money.
Chips can then be used for a variety of games like three card poker, blackjack, roulette, and slot machines. But, given what the gambling commission has just said, it won’t count as gambling because while you can cash in with real money you can’t cash out – even though you’re literally gambling.
Rockstar are clearly aware of the thin line they’re walking, as in some countries you can enter the casino but can’t play any of the games.
The logic behind which countries aren’t allowed is unclear though, as it’s possible in Belgium – which has already banned lootboxes as gambling – but not in countries such as Poland, Portugal, and Greece.
While the UK commission is correct to say there is no legal way to convert in-game money to real world currency there is a thriving grey market that makes it possible for games such as FIFA and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
It remains to be seen now whether that will also be the case for GTA Online’s casino…
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