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Loot Boxes Do Not Constitute Gambling According to New Zealand

Discussions around video game loot boxes being a form of gambling have become popular in the past few weeks, especially upon release of EA DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront II, with government organisations, game developers, publishers and players worldwide examining the similarities between the loot box monetisation model with that of gambling.
New Zealand is the latest country to weigh in on the topic, with Australia already deeming loot boxes to be a form of gambling.
Last week, New Zealand’s gambling regulation authority, the Gambling Compliance department of the Department of Internal Affairs (‘DIA’), officially stated their view that “loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling” under New Zealand’s Gambling Act 2003 and added that, it was not illegal for New Zealanders to gamble online with overseas providers. Therefore loot boxes do not require government regulation in New Zealand.
Trish Millward, a licensing compliance manager at the DIA, said that she had been following the international debate closely and found that loot boxes do not meet the legal definition of gambling as “gamers do not purchase loot boxes seeking to win money or something that can be converted into money.” As such, the DIA “has no ability to regulate the activity under the Gambling Act 2003.”
While the DIA will continue and monitor the discussions around loot boxes, New Zealand seems to be taking a “wait-and-see” approach, given the complicated nature surrounding the legal framework behind gambling laws.
Other countries, such as the United States (‘US’), in particular the government of Hawaii, and Belgium are taking a more rigorous approach, proposing strict government regulations surrounding loot boxes. However, US based gaming organisations, the ESA and ESRB, still maintain that loot boxes do not constitute gambling, agreeing with New Zealand that this is the case due to loot box contents not being able to be traded in for cash.
These discussions will likely continue in the near future, but for now, this seems to be the stance New Zealand is taking.