Belgian media recently reported the story of a minor having lost large sum of money by playing a strategy game on his iPad.
It concerned a strategy game with the aim of building a medieval city and an army, for which improvements could be obtained either by playing or by buying these with “virtual gold”. Such virtual gold has to be paid with the credit card connected to the player’s iTunes account. Moreover, the app contains a casino feature where players can stake their money, thus linking it to Belgium’s legislation on games of chance and in particular the notion of a “game of chance”.
Although the media reported that the matter was settled amicably (through a reimbursement of the player), it is important to note that the case has attracted the attention of the Belgian Gaming Commission which reportedly has sent the file to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, presumably on the basis of an unlicensed offering of games of chance, which is generally prohibited in Belgium. To what extent Belgian laws territorially apply to this case, of which the details are not fully made public, is unclear.
This once again illustrates the fact that the Belgian Gaming Commission not only directs attention to traditional gambling activities (casino/arcade/betting) but that it has broadened its scope to new technologies such as social app games in which players could lose money’s worth.