The Spanish minister of consumer protection, Alberto Garzón, has released in the past days several tweets stating that the Ministry of Health, Consumer Protection and Social Welfare is currently looking into different options to regulate loot boxes. Garzón has publicly expressed a critical view on this practice on several occasions, which he considers “Creates a compulsive consumption pattern” that directly affects minors.
The Spanish gambling authority (Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego) already anticipated last year that they intended to study loot boxes, and even signed a joint declaration with other European regulators in this regard. Pursuant to the text of said document, it would seem that both the Spanish gambling authority and the Ministry are particularly concerned on their impact on underage players.
Based on Garzón’s declarations, it would seem that the Ministry is currently preparing internal reports on the mechanics behind loot boxes and their impact on players. However, one of the main questions arising from the minister’s statements is whether loot box regulations will have their own legal regime or whether Spanish authorities will opt to simply extend the application of gambling regulations to them, as other European countries have already done.
The latter approach would pose a severe issue for the implementation of loot boxes in games addressed at the Spanish market, given the stringent obligations applicable to gambling operators in Spain. In order to avoid such scenario, it will be crucial for the legislator to ensure that the right caveats are in place and to collaborate with the main industry players to draft these new regulations.
At Baker McKenzie we are currently keeping track of the latest developments in this area, and will promptly update our blog with the latest steps taken by the Spanish authorities.