335. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department considers loot boxes and mystery boxes in video games a form of gambling or e-commerce activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23566/19]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): I have addressed on a number of occasions, the issue of "loot boxes" and whether they constitute a gambling or e-commerce offering.
A licence is required under the Betting Acts 1931 to 2015 or the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 to sell gambling products, and gaming, as defined under the latter Act, is covered in that regard. While the Minister for Justice and Equality has certain responsibilities under both Acts, the Revenue Commissioners are the responsible licensing authority for gaming and betting.
Video games may offer in-game purchases of "loot boxes" advertised to increase the chances of success in the game. These are referred to as micro-transactions and are a method of monetisation of their product by game developers. Some games may be provided free or at very low cost.
Where the offers do not fall within the current Irish legal definition of gambling, such purchases are essentially an e-commerce activity. This would fall within the recourse of normal consumer law where there is dissatisfaction on the part of the customer with the purchase.
However one might regard in-game purchases and how they may be marketed, it must be clear that they fall within the legal definition of a gambling activity to engage the regulatory attention of my or other Departments. This is a position, which is shared by other EU Member States. However, the position is kept under review.
I can offer the Deputy no particular guidance on the matter of "Mystery boxes". However, my earlier comments on the requirement for a gambling licence or not also apply in this instance.