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Netherlands court rules FIFA Ultimate Team’s player packs as illegal, EA to appeal

Dot Esports logo Dot Esports 10/29/2020 Dexter Tan Guan Hao
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The District Court of The Hague deemed Electronic Arts’ popular FIFA Ultimate Team’s (FUT) player packs to be in violation of the Netherlands’ Betting and Gaming Act, according to an official verdict published today.

Dirk Scholing, country manager for EA Benelux, said that the company was “disappointed by this decision and what it may mean to our Dutch community” in a statement to PCGamesN,

“We do not believe that our products and services violate gambling laws in any way,” said Scholing. “We are appealing this decision and we seek to avoid a situation impacting the ability of Dutch players to fully experience and enjoy FIFA Ultimate Team.”

Scholing added that EA remained “deeply committed to positive play,” seeking “to bring choice, fairness, value and fun to all our players.” The company will “remain open to discussions with the Netherlands Gambling Authority and other stakeholders to understand and explore solutions.”

It comes as no surprise that EA would want to keep one of their biggest sources of profit on the market. According to the 2020 financial report from EA, purchases made for UT racked up almost $1.5 billion net revenue for the 2020 fiscal year. That amounted to 27 percent of the company’s net profit, “a substantial portion of which was derived from FIFA Ultimate Team.”

The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) compared FUT’s player packs to loot boxes since its contents are determined by chance and cannot be outwardly influenced. The corresponding player cards have high values and can be traded as a commodity, which breaches the Gambling Act.

“Under Dutch law, a game of chance that allows a prize or premium to be won can only be provided if a relevant license has been granted,” wrote the KSA. “The KSA believes it is crucial to shield vulnerable groups, such as minors, from exposure to gambling.”

The KSA believes that “gambling elements have no place in games”, supporting a clear boundary between the two. The organization called for EA to remove said gambling elements of its FUT system entirely, or be subjected to a €500,000 ($585,000) fine for every week the service is live, to a maximum of €5 million ($5.85 million).

The KSA has been investigating the matter since 2018, and mentioned that the “issue is by no means unique to the Netherlands.” Two lawsuits were filed in France against FUT, with one lawyer stating that the game mode has “the logic of a casino.”

The post Netherlands court rules FIFA Ultimate Team’s player packs as illegal, EA to appeal appeared first on Dot Esports.

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