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Valve has restricted both trading and use of the Steam Marketplace for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 items for players in the Netherlands, explaining that, for the time being, shutting down those features is the only practical way for both games to remain on the right side of Dutch gambling legislation.
The Netherlands Gaming Authority ruled earlier this year that loot boxes that drop items with real-world value violate its Betting and Gaming Act that typically regulates gambling and games of chance. At the time, the NGA noted that 10 games were currently breaking the law due to this, and it seems that two of Valve’s games were among those initial titles.
In a message sent to Dutch Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players and later shared to Reddit, Valve confirmed that it had received two letters from the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit in regards to both CS:GO and Dota 2, each threatening to prosecute if Valve did not bring both games in-line with the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act by June 20.
“The Kansspelautoriteit accusation is different from how other countries think about loot boxes, so we hired Dutch legal counsel, looked at the recent Study into Loot Boxes published by the Kansspelautoriteit, and learned more about Dutch law. We still don’t understand or agree with the Kansspelautoriteit’s legal conclusion, and we’ve responded to explain more about CS:GO and Dota 2.”
Loot boxes as a whole don’t constitute illegal gambling under Dutch law, as long as the gear that results from a loot box purchase isn’t given any real-world value. But when players are able to put specific items gained from loot boxes up on a digital marketplace or trade things from their own inventory for other items, the in-game gear is ascribed real-world value and is no longer deemed legal.
The study published by Dutch legislators, Valve notes, specifically explains that “loot boxes contravene the law if the in-game goods from the loot boxes are transferable,” meaning that the removing the systems that do just that is likely the most practical way to bring both titles inline with the law for the time being.
“We hope that, after more engagement with the Kansspelautoriteit, they may refine their legal demands and we can find a solution that is less inconvenient.“