Austrian court rules loot boxes as illegal gambling

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An Austrian Court from the District Court of Hermagor has ruled that FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) pack purchases in the game constitute gambling and ordered PlayStation to issue refunds to Austrian FIFA players.

Several PlayStation owners, who play FIFA, filed a lawsuit against Sony, and recently, final verdict on the same has been made by the District Court, Hermagor. The court ruled that since the player can sell the cards received using FUT, the random item now have financial value and will be classified as “gambling games that require a licence”, according to gameswirtschaft. Both Sony and EA are also yet to challenge the Court’s verdict.

According to lawyer Ulrich Salburg, numerous cases have been filed in this regard with many individuals including minors have gambled away hundreds of euros in these FUT packs. Most of these cases include people gambling around €800 on average, but in one extreme case the amount have surpassed €10,000.

One of the most recent cases include the court classifying loot boxes as “illegal gambling”. The court also ordered Sony to refund the payment amounting to €338.26. Since the verdict is not final, Sony can still appeal.

Another case includes a 26-year-old man who also lost money on the FUT. According to his lawyer Sebastian Furtmüller, through these so-called loot boxes, his 26-year-old client lost close to €11,000 gambling on various FIFA titles. The parties to the proceedings are currently awaiting final verdict following the conclusion of the hearing.

Managing Director of the litigation financier Padronus, Richard Eibl, said, “The verdict is a bang for the entire video game industry. Neither in Austria nor in Germany has there been case law on the question of the legality of loot boxes and the reclaimability of payments made. Of course, the final result remains to be seen, as the proceedings will probably go up to the courts, but Sony and several other gaming groups should dress warmly from now on.”