Gaming regulators in New Zealand have ruled that in-game loot boxes are not a form of gambling. The decision is a big victory for the video game industry and its recent efforts to beef up revenue streams through loot boxes and other in-game transactions.

The announcement regarding loot boxes came from the Gambling Compliance office of New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs, earlier this month. In their ruling they decided that because loot boxes could not be exchanged directly for cash that was enough to keep loot boxes out of the realm of casino gambling. (Given the thriving aftermarket for video game skins, that overall accuracy of that decision remains to be seen.)

New Zealand’s decision to rule on loot boxes came in response to the worldwide controversy surrounding the use of in-game transactions in the new Star Wars video game, Battlefronts 2. Video game players worldwide erupted in anger when they saw what a heavy emphasis the game’s developers had placed loot boxes, and the clear indication that advancement in the game would revolve around purchasing lots of them.

Battlefronts 2 is so reliant on loot boxes for advancement that the Hawaii Attorney General opened an investigation into the game. After all, loot box grabs can be purchased, but their contents are awarded on a random basis.

In response to the worldwide uproar over loot boxes in Battlefronts 2, and the prospect of being labelled as a gambling operator, the game’s developers have reduced the profile of in-game transactions in the game. Whether that move will be enough to hold off regulators is another question entirely.


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