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EA's €10m Dutch FIFA loot box fine overturned

Penalty saved.

EA has successfully overturned a €10m fine handed down in October 2020 by the Court of The Hague, which ruled FIFA Ultimate Team packs broke Dutch gambling law.

The ruling slapped a €500k fine on EA for every week it did not comply with the court's demand that it pull FIFA packs from its most recent games, up to a maximum overall fine of €10m.

At the time, EA said it would appeal the decision, and did not pull FIFA packs from sale - signing itself up to incur the full €10m penalty.

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Today, the Dutch Administrative Jurisdiction Division - the country's highest court - announced it had overruled the Hague court's 2020 judgement and decided EA had not broken the country's gambling laws after all.

This new decision, it said, was based upon the fact that the obtaining and opening of packs was itself "not an isolated game", and part of a wider "game of skill" which simply added "an element of chance".

"The vast majority of packs are obtained by and used for game participation," the court ruled. "The tradability of the packs on the black market is relative. The black market mainly focuses on trading complete accounts rather than individual packs or their contents. Since the packs are not a standalone game, they are not a game of chance and do not require a licence.

"The publisher has therefore not violated the Games of Chance Act and the Gaming Authority should therefore not have imposed a penalty payment on the publisher. The Administrative Jurisdiction Division has 'revoked' the imposed penalty. This means that the penalty payment is off the table."

In a statement to Eurogamer today, EA welcomed the new ruling.

"Today's decision confirms our belief that no aspect of FIFA or FIFA Ultimate Team can be considered gambling under Dutch law," an EA spokesperson told Eurogamer.

"At Electronic Arts our approach to game design puts choice, fun, fairness and value first. Our priority has always been to make sure that our players in the Netherlands and across the world have a positive experience."

In January 2019, EA stopped selling FIFA Points in Belgium following government pressure over loot boxes.

The subject has remained a contentious issue, and in October last year our Wesley Yin-Poole sat down for an extended conversation with EA chief experience officer Chris Bruzzo to discuss the subject at length.

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