The Government will prohibit the access of minors to the rewards of video games

Several minors playing. / Eph

Violations of the rule, which seek to end a product that can cause addiction, will be sanctioned with up to three million euros

Alfonso Torres

It is increasingly common for video games to offer during their sessions the possibility of acquiring, either with physical money or with cryptocurrencies or virtual values, a loot box or reward chest. It is a surprise purchase in which the player hopes that he will get the weapon he needs to win, the tool or the key with which to overcome the challenge he has set or the FIFA striker who scores the most goals, depending on the modality or franchise in which be competing. Once paid, the box is opened and the prize is revealed. Most of the time it is a disappointment that causes disappointment and even anxiety, but the game allows you to try your luck again with a new chest and a new payment, and so on as long as you want or can.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs considers that this type of product, popularly known by its name in English, 'loot boxes', and this mechanism have characteristics very similar to those of games of chance, so they also replicate most of its risks. It is the reason why its owner, Alberto Garzón, has decided to follow in the footsteps of countries like Belgium or Japan and put the 'loot boxes' out of the reach of minors.

With this objective, the department has begun to elaborate a specific law, destined exclusively to regulate the Random Reward Mechanisms (MAR) that suppose a disbursement, either they are loot boxes offered while playing or they are products acquired through the web or exchange platforms. The preliminary draft, which is now beginning the phase of public allegations, will soon be taken to the Council of Ministers for debate, a step prior to being sent to Congress for approval.

The rule will prohibit any access of minors to these paid reward chests and for this it will create a registration system that, either by entering the DNI or the use of biometrics or other security procedures, prevents it. What the rule will veto is the possibility for those under 18 to buy MAR, but it will not prevent them from using the video game in which they are activated or offered.

Exile at dawn

The project will also allow adults to set limits against these products of chance that totally or partially minimize the risks they assume. Adults will be able to enter a system of total exclusion, similar to the one that prevents gambling sufferers from accessing the game, or at least set some purchase limits, such as the time of use or the maximum amount to be disbursed. In any case, to banish misunderstandings or deception, the rule will oblige video game operators to give truthful information about the real chances that the player has of obtaining the prize if they make the purchase.

To protect all citizens, especially young people and adolescents, from a product that is considered risky, the law will establish strict limits on its advertising, very similar to those that already apply to the promotion of online gambling. Physical advertising - the one that uses billboards, outdoor posters, newspapers, magazines, etc. - and online advertising on all websites and social networks not directly linked to video games will be prohibited. Similarly, the promotion of the 'loot boxes' on radio or television will be restricted to the night time slot, the broadcasts that go from one to five in the morning.

As a closing clause, to guarantee that all this series of limitations and prohibitions are respected, the law incorporates a harsh sanctioning regime for infractions to the provisions of its articles. There will be minor, serious and very serious fines, but they will be important sanctions in all cases. Minor offenses can reach 25,000 euros, but very serious offenses will mean compensation of 200,000 to three million euros for the operator, in addition to sometimes leading to the closure of the means by which video game services are provided or allow activation from reward chests.

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