The Legality of Loot Boxes : Countries Vary in Views

Questions about the legality of loot boxes have been answered by regulators of different countries, to which varying views and actions have been taken.

Countries like the UK and the U.S. generally allow video game developers to offer loot boxes, for as long as their mechanics do not go into the boundaries of gambling laws, In China, Belgium and the Netherlands, loot boxes have been constituted as falling in the same structure as online gambling. As a result, said countries have outlawed their inclusion as reward features of video games. In Japan, loot boxes are allowed but subject to certain restrictions.
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The differences of opinion though, stirred confusion among gamers. Loot-box supporters opine that they are structured under the same framework of the “surprise toys” so loved by children. The problem though is that some game developers went beyond the mechanics of offering mystery prizes by way of loot boxes. The offering began to draw criticisms when their acquisitions involved payment of real money, described as similar to staking of wagers in exchange for an unknown game enhancement or rare feature.

Some others oppose the addition of loot boxes in games because they perceive loot rewards as predatory tactics. Parents raised concerns that even if offered as in-game rewards, the prospect of winning a mystery prize encourages minors to play non-stop, and could lead to game addiction if not closely supervised.

Understanding the Aspects that Determine the Legality of Loot Boxes

Countries that arrived at a decision to allow loot boxes made references to online gambling laws. That is regardless of whether a loot box was randomly won as a prize, or acquired as in-app purchase. Three elements were considered and compared to what statutes specify as critical elements that define an activity as online gambling.

First is “value”, the second is “chance” and the third is “valuable prize.” If a loot box is randomly awarded as a game prize, there is no value involved, which makes the chance of winning a valuable prize, free of cost. If a loot box is acquired by way of real-money purchase, and even though all elements of gambling are present, it still does not necessarily constitute online gambling.

Prizes that are valuable to gamers may come in the form of customization features, such as characters or avatars, skins, weapons, armors, which they would otherwise have to pay for if they so wish to acquire. These virtual objects are not considered things of monetary value in the real world, and therefore cannot be monetized by the gamers who won them via loot boxes.

Things would be different if the mystery prizes being awarded come in the form of gaming hardware and accessories, which gamers could monetize by selling them even at a bargain price, If that is the case, regulators may have decided that the elements of value, chance and prize constitute fall in the same category as online gambling.

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Legal Requirements of Electric Collars as Components of Containment Systems

In legal parlance, a containment system refers to a method of safely securing workers, animals or an environment within a managed buffer zone. The purpose of which to separate them and provide protection against hazardous or contaminated materials. Some containment systems though use electric collars to prevent pets from accidents or from accidentally destroying certain areas of a property.

Are electric collars legal?

Although the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act 2008, recognizes electric animal collars as acceptable parts of containment systems, certain requirements and conditions must be met.

Legal Requirements to Follow and Observe When Placing an Electric Collar on an Animal

First off, it should be clear that an electric collar or e-collar is a device, which when worn by an animal, is capable of relaying a message by way of a mild electric jolt.

The following are legal requirements that see to the regulated use of e-collars; all aimed to prevent the potential use of the device in inflicting harm on animals,

1. Use of electric collars are authorized only if a component of a containment system for dogs or cats.

2. The dog or cat must be more than six (6) months old.
It is important that a veterinarian has examined the dog or cat, in order to ascertain the animal’s physical well-being and temperament. Doing so is a means of obtaining professional assessment on whether the use of an authorized e-collar is suitable.

3. The design of the electronic gadget must be one that is able to limit the power to 100 milliamps single pulse, or 15 milliamps root mean square, at a maximum duration of 3 milliamps per second. The e-collar therefore must be outfitted with an automatic safety cut-out feature and controls for varying levels of static stimulation;

4. Additional specifications for an authorized electric collar include making the collar contact points safe and rounded. Moreover, pet owners or animal trainers must ensure that the distance between the contact points of the collar do not exceed 60 millimetres.

 

5. The placing of an electric collar on a dog or cat should be in accordance with training programs that follow the guidelines of the “Code of Practice for Training Dogs and Cats to Wear Electronic Collars,” as stated under the PCA Act of 986.1

6. Electronic collars even if authorized should not be worn by an animal for more that 12 hours within a 24-hour duration.
Pet parents or animal carers, including trainers, should always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the electronic collar. .

Using Wireless Electrical Fence as a Containment System

An e-collar is only a component of a dog containment system, and used when training the animal to stay within a specific boundary or in preventing entry to a restricted area of a property. Some containment systems make use of an in-ground boundary wire and a transmitter that sends radio signal to a receiver placed in the electronic collar with by the dog.

A dog being trained to avoid a specific area will receive a static jolt if the animal crosses the invisible wireless fence. Training therefore must be carried out in the manner prescribed by the animal protection laws.

Nowadays, most dog owners prefer to use the wireless type of dog fence as a containment system. Mainly because they are portable and easier to install. Nonetheless, whether with in-ground boundary wire or wireless, it is important to make sure that the use and features of the electric collar component is compliant with the guidelines prescribed by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations Act of 2008.