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Lootboxes are gambling (Official Statement)

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,379
    Vrika said:
    Quizzical said:
    Vrika said:
    Quizzical said:

    People smoking actually saves the government money, quite apart from the taxes.  Smokers tend to die younger, and thus collect massively less money in Social Security.  That overwhelms the increased health care expenditures.  And even if the government paying for health care for smokers were the issue (which it isn't), it would be a simple enough matter to refuse to pay for health care for smokers who get diseases such as lung cancer or emphysema that tend to be brought on by smoking.

    The reason there are high taxes on cigarettes in most states is that it's a politically popular tax.  The primary reason for this is that while most people won't admit it, their basic philosophy of taxes is, as one politician put it decades ago, "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind a tree".  The most popular taxes are the ones that you and your friends don't pay but someone else does.  Most people don't smoke and thus know that a cigarette tax will bring in a lot of money without them personally having to pay it.

    Some people may rationalize their support for a tax on cigarettes as being that smoking should be discouraged because it's unhealthy.  But if that were all that went into it, we'd see the same support for that tax among smokers as non-smokers.  We'd also expect to see people support high taxes on the unhealthy things that they personally do or consume or whatever.  But to the extent that anyone bothers to propose a junk food tax, it's generally very narrowly targeted at only a tiny slice of unhealthy foods and also pretty unpopular.
    The problem with taxing fast foods is where to draw the line.

    For example some years ago Finland tried to tax soft drinks based on health reasons. The result was that I had to pay that tax for porridge with blueberry soup because the blueberry soup technically filled all the criteria of a soft drink.

    Alcohol and tobacco are easy tax, whereas a tax on fast food will always produce some queer results.
    If it's done for health reasons, there's no need to make artificial categories of foods.  You could more directly tax fat, sugar, sodium, or whatever it is that you decide is unhealthy above a certain percentage of calories.
    Taxing based on sodium would make meat healthier than fish.

    Taxing based on percentage of calories would make a hamburger that has too much fat, carbohydrates and some proteins healthy because its problem is too much energy in general rather than too much energy in any single form.

    If you taxed based on weight or volume of the food, without categories, that would make coke healthy because all drinks contain a lot less energy than foods.


    It would be possible to device a taxation that works most of the time, but no matter how you'd do it you'd always have some unintended consequences.
    Not really.  You cite a hamburger, but both a Big Mac and a Whopper have about 50% of their calories from fat, as compared to the typical health recommendation of 30%.  A variety of other measures make them look unhealthy, too.  The high concentration of fat is precisely what makes the hamburger have too many calories.

    A can of Coca-Cola has 39 grams of added sugars, which accounts for basically all of its calories.  That's easily going to show up as being unhealthy by even a pretty naive formula.

    You mention sodium as making fish look bad, but fish is generally pretty low on sodium if all that you do to cook it is to add heat.  If you add a ton of salt as part of how you prepare it, then the sodium problem is that you've added a ton of salt, not that it's fish.

    I'm sure that you could come up with examples where simple measures make healthy foods look bad, but you didn't.  And a lot of that could be fixed by having a more complicated formula, such as distinguishing between sugar added such as in pop and naturally-occurring sugar such as in fruit, or taking into account the other nutrients that make vegetables healthy in spite of having few calories.
    TorvalPhry
  • goboygogoboygo Member RarePosts: 2,140
    Albatroes said:
    I'd just like to give a shoutout to EA for publicly being greedy arsehats and helping to put lootboxes into a political spotlight across the globe.
    Loot boxes are one of the things that have corrupted our beloved industry.  I hope other and all countries follow suit.
    Asm0deus
  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 14,693
    We should just tax stupid and be done with it. Come to think of it, considering the ridiculously low chance of getting the good stuff out of loot crates, loot crates are the stupid tax in gaming... hmm, I might have to rethink how I feel about them :)
    “Microtransactions? In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?” 
    ― CD PROJEKT RED

    "... the "influencers" which is the tech name we call sell outs now..."
    __ Wizardry, 2020
  • VrikaVrika Member EpicPosts: 6,602
    edited May 2018
    Quizzical said:
    Vrika said:
    Quizzical said:
    Vrika said:
    Quizzical said:

    People smoking actually saves the government money, quite apart from the taxes.  Smokers tend to die younger, and thus collect massively less money in Social Security.  That overwhelms the increased health care expenditures.  And even if the government paying for health care for smokers were the issue (which it isn't), it would be a simple enough matter to refuse to pay for health care for smokers who get diseases such as lung cancer or emphysema that tend to be brought on by smoking.

    The reason there are high taxes on cigarettes in most states is that it's a politically popular tax.  The primary reason for this is that while most people won't admit it, their basic philosophy of taxes is, as one politician put it decades ago, "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind a tree".  The most popular taxes are the ones that you and your friends don't pay but someone else does.  Most people don't smoke and thus know that a cigarette tax will bring in a lot of money without them personally having to pay it.

    Some people may rationalize their support for a tax on cigarettes as being that smoking should be discouraged because it's unhealthy.  But if that were all that went into it, we'd see the same support for that tax among smokers as non-smokers.  We'd also expect to see people support high taxes on the unhealthy things that they personally do or consume or whatever.  But to the extent that anyone bothers to propose a junk food tax, it's generally very narrowly targeted at only a tiny slice of unhealthy foods and also pretty unpopular.
    The problem with taxing fast foods is where to draw the line.

    For example some years ago Finland tried to tax soft drinks based on health reasons. The result was that I had to pay that tax for porridge with blueberry soup because the blueberry soup technically filled all the criteria of a soft drink.

    Alcohol and tobacco are easy tax, whereas a tax on fast food will always produce some queer results.
    If it's done for health reasons, there's no need to make artificial categories of foods.  You could more directly tax fat, sugar, sodium, or whatever it is that you decide is unhealthy above a certain percentage of calories.
    Taxing based on sodium would make meat healthier than fish.

    Taxing based on percentage of calories would make a hamburger that has too much fat, carbohydrates and some proteins healthy because its problem is too much energy in general rather than too much energy in any single form.

    If you taxed based on weight or volume of the food, without categories, that would make coke healthy because all drinks contain a lot less energy than foods.


    It would be possible to device a taxation that works most of the time, but no matter how you'd do it you'd always have some unintended consequences.
    Not really.  You cite a hamburger, but both a Big Mac and a Whopper have about 50% of their calories from fat, as compared to the typical health recommendation of 30%.  A variety of other measures make them look unhealthy, too.  The high concentration of fat is precisely what makes the hamburger have too many calories.
    Here's a hamburger that has 12% of adult's recommended daily fat intake, but 13% of recommended energy intake
      http://www.mcdonalds.fi/fi/product/hampurilainen.html

    Sorry the page is in Finnish. But as you can clearly see, if taxation is based on the percentage of fat compared to other calories then that hamburger is healthy.


    You could make that hamburger unhealthy by taxing unsaturated fat. But this bun would still be healthy
      https://fineli.fi/fineli/en/elintarvikkeet/33531?q=pullava&foodType=ANY&portionUnit=G&portionSize=100&sortByColumn=name&sortOrder=asc&component=2331&;


    Also if you taxed based on amount of fat, both the hamburger and the bun would be healthier than eating this fish:
       https://fineli.fi/fineli/en/elintarvikkeet/817?q=lohi&foodType=ANY&portionUnit=G&portionSize=100&sortByColumn=name&sortOrder=asc&component=2331&;
     
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    edited May 2018
    Quizzical said:
    Torval said:
    Sounds like politicians are looking for a new source of tax revenue to squander - a loot box tax must be needed since it's "gambling."
    Again, do realize that taxation IS one of the ways politicians discourage behavior they see as unhealthy for society.  That's why booze and cigarettes are taxed so highly.
    It works too. No one drinks or smokes. This is more like prohibition. That worked out well didn't it.
    It does, actually.  The extra taxes collected for cigarettes and booze are there to help recoup the costs to society of a member engaging in a destructive act.  Not unlike paying tolls to use roads so the government can ensure the road is maintained well.  The actions of the citizen (driving that road repeatedly) costs the government (in turn, society) money due to wear and tear.  The toll provides an avenue for the government to make up for that.  Same with taxing booze and alcohol.

    Taxation of dangerous/destructive/costly activities is actually a win-win for society, whether folks wanna believe it or not.  It's not an outright ban and destruction of a freedom, but it ensures that those activities are discouraged and, if they are undertaken, it looks to recoup the costs to society.

    Taxation is nice because it doesn't take away a freedom, but it can still be used to discourage dangerous activities that the government has deemed to hold very little benefit to society at large.

    EDIT- that concept can be seen applied elsewhere, too.  There's ideas that have floated in D.C. about requiring accidental death/dismemberment insurance for any gun owners.  It imparts more responsibility on the gun owner to secure their items (guns locked away in safes could be insured at a discount, for instance), and provides a safety net for society should you or someone that stole your gun go on a shooting spree.
    People smoking actually saves the government money, quite apart from the taxes.  Smokers tend to die younger, and thus collect massively less money in Social Security.  That overwhelms the increased health care expenditures.  And even if the government paying for health care for smokers were the issue (which it isn't), it would be a simple enough matter to refuse to pay for health care for smokers who get diseases such as lung cancer or emphysema that tend to be brought on by smoking.

    The reason there are high taxes on cigarettes in most states is that it's a politically popular tax.  The primary reason for this is that while most people won't admit it, their basic philosophy of taxes is, as one politician put it decades ago, "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind a tree".  The most popular taxes are the ones that you and your friends don't pay but someone else does.  Most people don't smoke and thus know that a cigarette tax will bring in a lot of money without them personally having to pay it.

    Some people may rationalize their support for a tax on cigarettes as being that smoking should be discouraged because it's unhealthy.  But if that were all that went into it, we'd see the same support for that tax among smokers as non-smokers.  We'd also expect to see people support high taxes on the unhealthy things that they personally do or consume or whatever.  But to the extent that anyone bothers to propose a junk food tax, it's generally very narrowly targeted at only a tiny slice of unhealthy foods and also pretty unpopular.
    Can you cite a source for the cost savings?

    It would have to exceed $300 billion a year to result in any net savings to society, per the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/index.htm

    Compare that with recorded tobacco revenue in the U.S. per Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/248964/revenues-from-tobacco-tax-and-forecast-in-the-us/#0

    I've yet to see convincing data showing smokers dying younger is saving the society an extra $280 billion dollars a year.

    Any costs you may be speaking of aren't there yet, and likely won't be for decades if we continue to tax cigarettes at the same rate for those decades, if at all.

    My search on the internet has shown merely articles quoting folks saying "oh yes, it's definitely a money saver to have smokers!" Light on data, heavy on the "analysis" of said mystical data.  I would rather put my money on the CDC.
    Asm0deus

    image
  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 12,395
    Grown people do not need governments taxing them to affect their behavior.  That's Orwellian, and yes... I realize it's pervasive today.  GroupThink has never been stronger.  There IS merit however to regulating companies.


    There are 3 problems I have with Lootboxes.   

    1. They are stupid.  Yes... I know that's a great reason... but seriously... who wants to buy a chance at something as opposed to knowing what you are buying. This does not mean the government should make them illegal though.
    2. They target kids.  THIS is an area that I feel is just totally wrong and yes... there should be regulations preventing the sale of gambling lootboxes to kids.  They aren't adults, and exposing them to gambling is bad.  
    3. They are unregulated and nobody knows the odds.   

    What I think must happen:

    1. They cannot be sold or marketed to kids.
    2. These should be clearly marked as containing gambling.
    3. They should post the odds on all purchases so that adults can make informed decisions.
    4. They should be subject to verification that what they post is true. Just like any other form of regulated gambling.

    What I would like to see:

    1. If a game keeps lootboxes they ALSO allow direct purchase of any items (goes hand in hand with #3 above)
    2. At least some games move away from this model.  It's great to have choices.  


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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,379
    Asm0deus said:
    Quizzical said:
    ...snip....
    Secondhand smoke is pretty inconsequential unless you inhale a lot of it.  Decades ago, when it was common for people to smoke at work, a non-smoker might get a ton of secondhand smoke basically as a requirement of doing his job.  Today, that's really only the case with a handful of jobs in establishments that cater to smokers--jobs of the sort that a non-smoker should avoid.  Secondhand smoke can still be an issue for people who live with smokers, but apart from children, that's still a choice to a considerable degree.

    ...snip....
    Sorry but no.  I am from Canada it's very well known second hand smoke is quite dangerous to the point there are laws making smoking illegal in restaurants, bars etc etc and if you go outside you need to be so far away from any entrances.

    As an ex smoker I can tell you just the no smoking in bars makes a huge huge difference in your health both immediate and long term.

    Anyways I think you guys are getting a little far out in left field when it comes to the topic at hand....lol
    Second hand smoke certainly does have serious health implications if you inhale a lot of it.  If you're around people who are smoking much of the day every day and inhale about as much as to be equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day yourself, then that will hurt your health.

    But that's uncommon for a variety of reasons, including the laws that you cite.  That something would incur serious costs if it happened, but it doesn't happen, is not a serious argument for trying to compensate for those costs that are not incurred.

    If the amount of second hand smoke that a non-smoker inhales is about 1% as much as it would be if he smoked, does that still have net negative health consequences?  The only scientifically honest answer is that we don't know because if there are any effects at all, they're too small to reliably measure.  More generally, small effects are hard to measure because they're mixed in with much larger effects that drown them out.  Statistical techniques to try to detect them rely on such strong assumptions as to generally produce garbage.

    But yes, you're right that wandering off into cigarettes is far removed from the original discussion.
  • kjempffkjempff Member RarePosts: 1,657
    DMKano said:
    Oh btw just 2 days ago EA has decided to keep putting lootboxes in its games

    https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/09/ea-loot-boxes-are-gambling-heres-more-loot-boxes/

    https://www.pcgamer.com/electronic-arts-will-push-forward-with-loot-boxes-in-future-games/


    If you guys think that this legislation will get the gaming industry to just drop lootboxes - lol


    Look at how Blizzard circumvented the law in China - where lootboxes are already illegal:

    "The law also banned game publishers from directly selling "lottery tickets" such as loot boxes. In June 2017, Blizzard Entertainment announced that, "in line with the new laws and regulations", loot boxes in their game Overwatch would no longer be available for purchase in China. Players would instead buy in-game currency and receive loot boxes as a "gift" for making the purchase"

    There's always a loophole - and the industry will exploit every possible loophole
    Of course they will try to get around it. Make more complicated constructs of the same concept (lootbox/gambling) so it gets harder to prove the gambling correlation.

    However, afaik most justice systems has some kind of concept for "intentionally trying to circumvent a law is considered the same as breaking that law". With increasing focus on the problem, it also gets harder and riskier to make clever workarounds, as the risk is ending in court and creating even more awareness from their players.

    Not to mention, it is probably too much work to try and create specific workarounds for specific markets, so it may just become cheaper to drop the idea and find other ways.
  • DvoraDvora Member UncommonPosts: 499
    edited May 2018
    Rhoklaw said:
    Sorry EA, time to go back to making real games with actual content instead of F2P / B2P crap supported by ridiculous P2W cash shop shenanigans.


    And there it is folks.

    The reality of the situation is that 99% of these people out here bitching about loot boxes and gambling have never once spent a second of their life complaining about any other form of gambling. You people really just want to force a company to make games that YOU want them to make.

    Just look at battlefront 2. Instead of just not buying a product they aren't interested in buying, like they do with every other thing they don't want, they are freaking out about it. This has never been about gambling, it's about an addiction.

    You people needed your star wars fix and rather than just accepting that they made a game with features that you didn't like you went out on some bullshit crusade about something you don't even remotely care about (gambling) so that you could use it as an excuse to try to get the government to strong arm companies into making the games that you want.
    No, its not about them making the games we wnat them to make at all, it is about how they monetize them, do not be rediculous.  People want games to be games, and gambling to be gambling. 

    Games are supposed to be fair and success in them is not supposed to be related to how much you spend in them.  You pay the same amount as other people pay, and thats it, or you don't play.  Cosmetic stuff, well that should be separate from success in the game also, but may not be if you are allowed to sell it for in game profit that can benefit you in other ways.  

    Gambling is about odds, money, and gullibility.  The two should not mix.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,379
    Can you cite a source for the cost savings?

    It would have to exceed $300 billion a year to result in any net savings to society, per the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/index.htm

    Compare that with recorded tobacco revenue in the U.S. per Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/248964/revenues-from-tobacco-tax-and-forecast-in-the-us/#0

    I've yet to see convincing data showing smokers dying younger is saving the society an extra $280 billion dollars a year.

    Any costs you may be speaking of aren't there yet, and likely won't be for decades if we continue to tax cigarettes at the same rate for those decades, if at all.

    My search on the internet has shown merely articles quoting folks saying "oh yes, it's definitely a money saver to have smokers!" Light on data, heavy on the "analysis" of said mystical data.  I would rather put my money on the CDC.
    That $300 billion per year figure is not a price tag to the government.  Only about 20% of American adults smoke.  If everyone smoked, that would come to about $1.5 trillion per year.  Medicare and Medicaid combined are only about $1 trillion per year.  Do you really believe that if everyone smoked, the health care costs due to smoking alone would exceed all current government spending on health care?

    Most likely, the $300 billion figure consists primarily of costs that are already borne by smokers, such as reduced life expectancy and lower quality of life in a variety of ways.  That doesn't justify taxing cigarettes to reimburse the government for costs that the government isn't paying.

    The relative costs argument is a very utilitarian one, not a moral one.  For example, if we had a policy of executing the day they turned 75 or 5 years after retirement, whichever comes first, that would undeniably save the government a ton of money.  But there are also a lot of obvious and compelling reasons why we shouldn't have such a policy, such as that mass murder is evil.
  • VrikaVrika Member EpicPosts: 6,602
    edited May 2018
    Grown people do not need governments taxing them to affect their behavior.  That's Orwellian, and yes... I realize it's pervasive today.  GroupThink has never been stronger.  There IS merit however to regulating companies.


    There are 3 problems I have with Lootboxes.   

    1. They are stupid.  Yes... I know that's a great reason... but seriously... who wants to buy a chance at something as opposed to knowing what you are buying. This does not mean the government should make them illegal though.
    2. They target kids.  THIS is an area that I feel is just totally wrong and yes... there should be regulations preventing the sale of gambling lootboxes to kids.  They aren't adults, and exposing them to gambling is bad.  
    3. They are unregulated and nobody knows the odds.   

    What I think must happen:

    1. They cannot be sold or marketed to kids.
    2. These should be clearly marked as containing gambling.
    3. They should post the odds on all purchases so that adults can make informed decisions.
    4. They should be subject to verification that what they post is true. Just like any other form of regulated gambling.

    What I would like to see:

    1. If a game keeps lootboxes they ALSO allow direct purchase of any items (goes hand in hand with #3 above)
    2. At least some games move away from this model.  It's great to have choices.  
    One problem with just forbidding sales and marketing to kids is that we'd need to keep the world somewhat accessible also to people who are under 18. It's one thing to prevent those who are under 18 from going to a few dedicated gambling websites, but it would be completely another thing to ban them from hundreds of popular games just because some adults want to have gambling in those games.

    Sometimes adults have to limit their actions so that the world can be kept accessible to children too, and I think this is one of the cases where adults have to ban themselves from gambling like this rather than forbidding minors from entering.
    Torval
     
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    edited May 2018
    Quizzical said:
    Can you cite a source for the cost savings?

    It would have to exceed $300 billion a year to result in any net savings to society, per the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/index.htm

    Compare that with recorded tobacco revenue in the U.S. per Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/248964/revenues-from-tobacco-tax-and-forecast-in-the-us/#0

    I've yet to see convincing data showing smokers dying younger is saving the society an extra $280 billion dollars a year.

    Any costs you may be speaking of aren't there yet, and likely won't be for decades if we continue to tax cigarettes at the same rate for those decades, if at all.

    My search on the internet has shown merely articles quoting folks saying "oh yes, it's definitely a money saver to have smokers!" Light on data, heavy on the "analysis" of said mystical data.  I would rather put my money on the CDC.
    That $300 billion per year figure is not a price tag to the government.  Only about 20% of American adults smoke.  If everyone smoked, that would come to about $1.5 trillion per year.  Medicare and Medicaid combined are only about $1 trillion per year.  Do you really believe that if everyone smoked, the health care costs due to smoking alone would exceed all current government spending on health care?

    Most likely, the $300 billion figure consists primarily of costs that are already borne by smokers, such as reduced life expectancy and lower quality of life in a variety of ways.  That doesn't justify taxing cigarettes to reimburse the government for costs that the government isn't paying.

    The relative costs argument is a very utilitarian one, not a moral one.  For example, if we had a policy of executing the day they turned 75 or 5 years after retirement, whichever comes first, that would undeniably save the government a ton of money.  But there are also a lot of obvious and compelling reasons why we shouldn't have such a policy, such as that mass murder is evil.
    I don't disagree.  It's a very, very utilitarian argument.  Governments sometimes need to pursue utilitarian positions.  You can't save everyone, especially from themselves, but you can help to ensure destruction, whether self-inflicted or otherwise, provides a benefit elsewhere to society or helps to blunt the effects the destruction may have on society (see the gun owner's insurance example I mentioned).  Other than the buzz and destruction of the body, cigarettes provide nothing to the user.  This is unlike food, where even unhealthy food is preferable to the more intense malnutrition effects that would occur if folks just didn't eat.

    EDIT- I will also add that governments, particularly the U.S. government, could do a much better job at earmarking such taxes.  I believe the utilitarian position is still morally valid so long as the resources generated are used in an effort to combat the underlying causes of the issue or recoup costs to society related to the same.  Our government could do that better, I think.

    image
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,379
    edited May 2018
    Actually, this discussion about "sin taxes" has gotten me thinking.  Why not just tax loot boxes?  I think I have a proposal that would be much easier to define, implement, and enforce than trying to ban them.

    The headline would be a 40% tax on loot boxes with odds not directly and explicitly told to players, a 20% tax on loot boxes for which the odds of all contents are explicitly told to players, and a 0% tax on game revenue that is not loot boxes.

    So what counts as a loot box?  Anything for which what the player gets for the product is completely deterministic and not random at all is not a loot box.  However, anything for which what the player gets is random counts as a loot box.  A game with random drops can also offer one recurring charge for access to content and/or one new one-time fee per month for permanent access to content with random drops that would be exempt from the loot box tax.  That would exempt both the "buy to play" and subscription models from the loot box tax, and in particular, would allow a "buy to play" model to charge for expansions or other content additions so long as it is not more than one per month.

    Another complication is that games often commingle their cash shop currency such that some of the currency is obtained in game or by trading with other players while it is also bought directly with real money.  Then some of the cash shop currency is used to buy loot boxes while some is used to buy other things.  How much money was spent on loot boxes?

    Companies would get some leeway to gate things apart or perhaps have multiple cash shop currencies.  But for any cash shop currency that could be used to buy loot boxes, they'd have to either:
    1)  assume that all real money that was used to purchase the currency (including indirectly if they could trade one cash shop currency for another) was spent on loot boxes and be taxed accordingly
    2)  assume that all cash shop currency spent on loot boxes was purchased with real money at whatever the worst rate in currency per dollar is (to exclude volume discounts) and be taxed accordingly

    Game companies would be allowed to split their cash shop currencies and have two separate currencies, one of which cannot be used to buy loot boxes (even indirectly), so that only the other would be taxed.  They could have a subscription or buy to play model where players pay real money directly and is exempt from the loot box tax, but only pay the tax on some other currency that can buy loot boxes.

    So how do you cram loot boxes into that and try to evade the tax?  Well, a game company could use the buy to play and subscription exemptions to sell loot boxes.  For example, they could say that if you pay $15/month, you'll get a loot box per day for that month.  And if you pay $50 for permanent access to a zone, you can kill some trivial mobs once to get the latest new loot boxes.

    The reason why those exemptions are limited is to stop companies from saying, well then, we'll create a million identical zones where you pay $1 to enter each and get a loot box for entering the first time.  They could still collect two payments per month for loot boxes, but no more.  That would clamp down on loot boxes considerably, as they couldn't simultaneously get maximum spending from the $10/month minnow, the $100/month semi-whale, the $1000/month real whale, and all intermediate points without paying a whole lot of tax.

    But perhaps more importantly, it would crack down on the impulsive, gambling nature of loot boxes.  What makes a gambling addiction so insidious is not that someone sets out to lose far more than he can afford to.  Rather, it's that you lose a little bit of money, and then another little bit, and then another, so many times that it ultimately adds up to far more than you intended to lose.  Companies that tried to still exploit that behavior would have to pay the loot box tax.
    MadFrenchie
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    edited May 2018
    It's doesn't remove the freedom of companies to engage in the behavior, but it does disqualify and discourage attempts at using the exploitative nature of lootboxes to extract exhorbitent amounts of cash from players by doing nothing be offering reskins and limited-time game models.

    The specifics would obviously be negotiated out during the debate of the bill, most likely the specifics of exemption and reporting and the tax rate.  I think it would be a far better end result overall than merely trying to ban them realistically, as a ban would be met with much more resistance from lobby groups and, likely, court judges.
    Quizzical

    image
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,379
    Part of the idea is that if a company that isn't trying to sell loot boxes accidentally does something that gets counted as loot boxes, they don't get arrested, they don't get their game shut down temporarily, they don't have to make abrupt changes that seriously disrupt gameplay, and they don't have other such wildly unintended consequences that a full ban on loot boxes might cause.  They pay a bit of tax to get through it, then adjust their policies so that they don't keep paying the tax in the future.

    The goal isn't to get rid of loot boxes entirely.  It's to make it seem more profitable to many games to forgo loot boxes, or at least to avoid their most abusive problems.  I think that my proposal above would cause a relatively minor drop in expenditures on game development, but much smaller than a full ban on loot boxes.
    MadFrenchie
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    I agree that may be much better than an outright ban.

    The gamer in me wants to see them go away completely for the reasons @Iselin describes.  However, it may not be a realistic goal in any way at this point.

    image
  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 12,395
    Quizzical said:
    Actually, this discussion about "sin taxes" has gotten me thinking.  Why not just tax loot boxes?  I think I have a proposal that would be much easier to define, implement, and enforce than trying to ban them.

    The headline would be a 40% tax on loot boxes with odds not directly and explicitly told to players, a 20% tax on loot boxes for which the odds of all contents are explicitly told to players, and a 0% tax on game revenue that is not loot boxes.

    So what counts as a loot box?  Anything for which what the player gets for the product is completely deterministic and not random at all is not a loot box.  However, anything for which what the player gets is random counts as a loot box.  A game with random drops can also offer one recurring charge for access to content and/or one new one-time fee per month for permanent access to content with random drops that would be exempt from the loot box tax.  That would exempt both the "buy to play" and subscription models from the loot box tax, and in particular, would allow a "buy to play" model to charge for expansions or other content additions so long as it is not more than one per month.

    Another complication is that games often commingle their cash shop currency such that some of the currency is obtained in game or by trading with other players while it is also bought directly with real money.  Then some of the cash shop currency is used to buy loot boxes while some is used to buy other things.  How much money was spent on loot boxes?

    Companies would get some leeway to gate things apart or perhaps have multiple cash shop currencies.  But for any cash shop currency that could be used to buy loot boxes, they'd have to either:
    1)  assume that all real money that was used to purchase the currency (including indirectly if they could trade one cash shop currency for another) was spent on loot boxes and be taxed accordingly
    2)  assume that all cash shop currency spent on loot boxes was purchased with real money at whatever the worst rate in currency per dollar is (to exclude volume discounts) and be taxed accordingly

    Game companies would be allowed to split their cash shop currencies and have two separate currencies, one of which cannot be used to buy loot boxes (even indirectly), so that only the other would be taxed.  They could have a subscription or buy to play model where players pay real money directly and is exempt from the loot box tax, but only pay the tax on some other currency that can buy loot boxes.

    So how do you cram loot boxes into that and try to evade the tax?  Well, a game company could use the buy to play and subscription exemptions to sell loot boxes.  For example, they could say that if you pay $15/month, you'll get a loot box per day for that month.  And if you pay $50 for permanent access to a zone, you can kill some trivial mobs once to get the latest new loot boxes.

    The reason why those exemptions are limited is to stop companies from saying, well then, we'll create a million identical zones where you pay $1 to enter each and get a loot box for entering the first time.  They could still collect two payments per month for loot boxes, but no more.  That would clamp down on loot boxes considerably, as they couldn't simultaneously get maximum spending from the $10/month minnow, the $100/month semi-whale, the $1000/month real whale, and all intermediate points without paying a whole lot of tax.

    But perhaps more importantly, it would crack down on the impulsive, gambling nature of loot boxes.  What makes a gambling addiction so insidious is not that someone sets out to lose far more than he can afford to.  Rather, it's that you lose a little bit of money, and then another little bit, and then another, so many times that it ultimately adds up to far more than you intended to lose.  Companies that tried to still exploit that behavior would have to pay the loot box tax.
    Because as soon as you open the door to tax "lootboxes".. governments will want to tax the "winnings" from the boxes.  That leads down a road of perpetual taxes.

    "I should point out that no other company has shipped out a beta on a disc before this." - Official Mortal Online Lead Community Moderator

    Starvault's reponse to criticism related to having a handful of players as the official "test" team for a supposed MMO: "We've just have another 10ish folk kind enough to voulenteer added tot the test team" (SIC) This explains much about the state of the game :-)

    Proudly wearing the Harbinger badge since Dec 23, 2017. 

    Coined the phrase "Role-Playing a Development Team" January 2018

    "Oddly Slap is the main reason I stay in these forums." - Mystichaze April 9th 2018

    My ignore list finally has one occupant after 12 years. I am the strongest supporter of free speech on here, but free speech does not mean forced listening. Have fun my friend. Hope you find a new stalking target.

  • CryomatrixCryomatrix Member EpicPosts: 3,048
    In addition to second-hand smoke there is third-hand smoke that is what layers on to surfaces. It has been shown to be harmful in mice exposed to third hand smoke. 

    I am currently preparing an IRB approved study to test the effects of third-hand smoke on children. It will be the first of its kind.

    This is a study and the final author is the one i'm working with. 
    (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28001376)

    For example, if you go into the VA in Roxbury, MA the whole place smells like an ashtray. I bet you that is not good for the people that work there. 

    Any way, in many arguments, it is difficult to argue things on a spectrum. What you should and shouldn't tax is on a spectrum. 

    I personally, would tax the hell out of Smoking and alcohol and subsidize condoms :)

    Cryomatrix
    Asm0deust0nyd
    Catch me streaming at twitch.tv/cryomatrix
    You can see my sci-fi/WW2 book recommendations. 
  • craftseekercraftseeker Member RarePosts: 1,740
    Utterly amazed by the people on this thread who oppose the Belgian ban on gambling in games. Particularly those made by @DMKano. They seem to me to fall into three main categories.
    1. It's an attack on our FreeDumb! We must be free to be as stupid as we like.
    2. How dare Belgium, or indeed any country, have the audacity to attempt to restrict the rapacious activities of U.S. companies.
    3. Gambling is good because it funds our game play at the expense of the naive and stupid.

    The arrogance of a section of U.S. citizens always amazes me. Surely any restriction on this blatant and deceitful cash grab is a social good. One we should all be encouraging. After all it is in our own interests.
    Asm0deusLackingMMORhoklawkjempff
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    Quizzical said:
    Actually, this discussion about "sin taxes" has gotten me thinking.  Why not just tax loot boxes?  I think I have a proposal that would be much easier to define, implement, and enforce than trying to ban them.

    The headline would be a 40% tax on loot boxes with odds not directly and explicitly told to players, a 20% tax on loot boxes for which the odds of all contents are explicitly told to players, and a 0% tax on game revenue that is not loot boxes.

    So what counts as a loot box?  Anything for which what the player gets for the product is completely deterministic and not random at all is not a loot box.  However, anything for which what the player gets is random counts as a loot box.  A game with random drops can also offer one recurring charge for access to content and/or one new one-time fee per month for permanent access to content with random drops that would be exempt from the loot box tax.  That would exempt both the "buy to play" and subscription models from the loot box tax, and in particular, would allow a "buy to play" model to charge for expansions or other content additions so long as it is not more than one per month.

    Another complication is that games often commingle their cash shop currency such that some of the currency is obtained in game or by trading with other players while it is also bought directly with real money.  Then some of the cash shop currency is used to buy loot boxes while some is used to buy other things.  How much money was spent on loot boxes?

    Companies would get some leeway to gate things apart or perhaps have multiple cash shop currencies.  But for any cash shop currency that could be used to buy loot boxes, they'd have to either:
    1)  assume that all real money that was used to purchase the currency (including indirectly if they could trade one cash shop currency for another) was spent on loot boxes and be taxed accordingly
    2)  assume that all cash shop currency spent on loot boxes was purchased with real money at whatever the worst rate in currency per dollar is (to exclude volume discounts) and be taxed accordingly

    Game companies would be allowed to split their cash shop currencies and have two separate currencies, one of which cannot be used to buy loot boxes (even indirectly), so that only the other would be taxed.  They could have a subscription or buy to play model where players pay real money directly and is exempt from the loot box tax, but only pay the tax on some other currency that can buy loot boxes.

    So how do you cram loot boxes into that and try to evade the tax?  Well, a game company could use the buy to play and subscription exemptions to sell loot boxes.  For example, they could say that if you pay $15/month, you'll get a loot box per day for that month.  And if you pay $50 for permanent access to a zone, you can kill some trivial mobs once to get the latest new loot boxes.

    The reason why those exemptions are limited is to stop companies from saying, well then, we'll create a million identical zones where you pay $1 to enter each and get a loot box for entering the first time.  They could still collect two payments per month for loot boxes, but no more.  That would clamp down on loot boxes considerably, as they couldn't simultaneously get maximum spending from the $10/month minnow, the $100/month semi-whale, the $1000/month real whale, and all intermediate points without paying a whole lot of tax.

    But perhaps more importantly, it would crack down on the impulsive, gambling nature of loot boxes.  What makes a gambling addiction so insidious is not that someone sets out to lose far more than he can afford to.  Rather, it's that you lose a little bit of money, and then another little bit, and then another, so many times that it ultimately adds up to far more than you intended to lose.  Companies that tried to still exploit that behavior would have to pay the loot box tax.
    Because as soon as you open the door to tax "lootboxes".. governments will want to tax the "winnings" from the boxes.  That leads down a road of perpetual taxes.
    Which would only further serve to discourage the monetization technique, though.

    image
  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 12,395
    Quizzical said:
    Actually, this discussion about "sin taxes" has gotten me thinking.  Why not just tax loot boxes?  I think I have a proposal that would be much easier to define, implement, and enforce than trying to ban them.

    The headline would be a 40% tax on loot boxes with odds not directly and explicitly told to players, a 20% tax on loot boxes for which the odds of all contents are explicitly told to players, and a 0% tax on game revenue that is not loot boxes.

    So what counts as a loot box?  Anything for which what the player gets for the product is completely deterministic and not random at all is not a loot box.  However, anything for which what the player gets is random counts as a loot box.  A game with random drops can also offer one recurring charge for access to content and/or one new one-time fee per month for permanent access to content with random drops that would be exempt from the loot box tax.  That would exempt both the "buy to play" and subscription models from the loot box tax, and in particular, would allow a "buy to play" model to charge for expansions or other content additions so long as it is not more than one per month.

    Another complication is that games often commingle their cash shop currency such that some of the currency is obtained in game or by trading with other players while it is also bought directly with real money.  Then some of the cash shop currency is used to buy loot boxes while some is used to buy other things.  How much money was spent on loot boxes?

    Companies would get some leeway to gate things apart or perhaps have multiple cash shop currencies.  But for any cash shop currency that could be used to buy loot boxes, they'd have to either:
    1)  assume that all real money that was used to purchase the currency (including indirectly if they could trade one cash shop currency for another) was spent on loot boxes and be taxed accordingly
    2)  assume that all cash shop currency spent on loot boxes was purchased with real money at whatever the worst rate in currency per dollar is (to exclude volume discounts) and be taxed accordingly

    Game companies would be allowed to split their cash shop currencies and have two separate currencies, one of which cannot be used to buy loot boxes (even indirectly), so that only the other would be taxed.  They could have a subscription or buy to play model where players pay real money directly and is exempt from the loot box tax, but only pay the tax on some other currency that can buy loot boxes.

    So how do you cram loot boxes into that and try to evade the tax?  Well, a game company could use the buy to play and subscription exemptions to sell loot boxes.  For example, they could say that if you pay $15/month, you'll get a loot box per day for that month.  And if you pay $50 for permanent access to a zone, you can kill some trivial mobs once to get the latest new loot boxes.

    The reason why those exemptions are limited is to stop companies from saying, well then, we'll create a million identical zones where you pay $1 to enter each and get a loot box for entering the first time.  They could still collect two payments per month for loot boxes, but no more.  That would clamp down on loot boxes considerably, as they couldn't simultaneously get maximum spending from the $10/month minnow, the $100/month semi-whale, the $1000/month real whale, and all intermediate points without paying a whole lot of tax.

    But perhaps more importantly, it would crack down on the impulsive, gambling nature of loot boxes.  What makes a gambling addiction so insidious is not that someone sets out to lose far more than he can afford to.  Rather, it's that you lose a little bit of money, and then another little bit, and then another, so many times that it ultimately adds up to far more than you intended to lose.  Companies that tried to still exploit that behavior would have to pay the loot box tax.
    Because as soon as you open the door to tax "lootboxes".. governments will want to tax the "winnings" from the boxes.  That leads down a road of perpetual taxes.
    Which would only further serve to discourage the monetization technique, though.
    Sure.  Kind of like drinking Drain-O to kill the bacteria in your stomach. You really want the tax guy expecting you to list all your "virtual items" at the end of the year and having you pay a certain % of their "value"?


    craftseekerLeFantome

    "I should point out that no other company has shipped out a beta on a disc before this." - Official Mortal Online Lead Community Moderator

    Starvault's reponse to criticism related to having a handful of players as the official "test" team for a supposed MMO: "We've just have another 10ish folk kind enough to voulenteer added tot the test team" (SIC) This explains much about the state of the game :-)

    Proudly wearing the Harbinger badge since Dec 23, 2017. 

    Coined the phrase "Role-Playing a Development Team" January 2018

    "Oddly Slap is the main reason I stay in these forums." - Mystichaze April 9th 2018

    My ignore list finally has one occupant after 12 years. I am the strongest supporter of free speech on here, but free speech does not mean forced listening. Have fun my friend. Hope you find a new stalking target.

  • NildenNilden Member EpicPosts: 3,144
    I don't play games with loot boxes.
    craftseekerSlapshot1188

    "You CAN'T buy ships for RL money." - MaxBacon

    "classification of games into MMOs is not by rational reasoning" - nariusseldon

    Love Minecraft. And check out my Youtube channel OhCanadaGamer



  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member LegendaryPosts: 8,505
    edited May 2018
    Quizzical said:
    Actually, this discussion about "sin taxes" has gotten me thinking.  Why not just tax loot boxes?  I think I have a proposal that would be much easier to define, implement, and enforce than trying to ban them.

    The headline would be a 40% tax on loot boxes with odds not directly and explicitly told to players, a 20% tax on loot boxes for which the odds of all contents are explicitly told to players, and a 0% tax on game revenue that is not loot boxes.

    So what counts as a loot box?  Anything for which what the player gets for the product is completely deterministic and not random at all is not a loot box.  However, anything for which what the player gets is random counts as a loot box.  A game with random drops can also offer one recurring charge for access to content and/or one new one-time fee per month for permanent access to content with random drops that would be exempt from the loot box tax.  That would exempt both the "buy to play" and subscription models from the loot box tax, and in particular, would allow a "buy to play" model to charge for expansions or other content additions so long as it is not more than one per month.

    Another complication is that games often commingle their cash shop currency such that some of the currency is obtained in game or by trading with other players while it is also bought directly with real money.  Then some of the cash shop currency is used to buy loot boxes while some is used to buy other things.  How much money was spent on loot boxes?

    Companies would get some leeway to gate things apart or perhaps have multiple cash shop currencies.  But for any cash shop currency that could be used to buy loot boxes, they'd have to either:
    1)  assume that all real money that was used to purchase the currency (including indirectly if they could trade one cash shop currency for another) was spent on loot boxes and be taxed accordingly
    2)  assume that all cash shop currency spent on loot boxes was purchased with real money at whatever the worst rate in currency per dollar is (to exclude volume discounts) and be taxed accordingly

    Game companies would be allowed to split their cash shop currencies and have two separate currencies, one of which cannot be used to buy loot boxes (even indirectly), so that only the other would be taxed.  They could have a subscription or buy to play model where players pay real money directly and is exempt from the loot box tax, but only pay the tax on some other currency that can buy loot boxes.

    So how do you cram loot boxes into that and try to evade the tax?  Well, a game company could use the buy to play and subscription exemptions to sell loot boxes.  For example, they could say that if you pay $15/month, you'll get a loot box per day for that month.  And if you pay $50 for permanent access to a zone, you can kill some trivial mobs once to get the latest new loot boxes.

    The reason why those exemptions are limited is to stop companies from saying, well then, we'll create a million identical zones where you pay $1 to enter each and get a loot box for entering the first time.  They could still collect two payments per month for loot boxes, but no more.  That would clamp down on loot boxes considerably, as they couldn't simultaneously get maximum spending from the $10/month minnow, the $100/month semi-whale, the $1000/month real whale, and all intermediate points without paying a whole lot of tax.

    But perhaps more importantly, it would crack down on the impulsive, gambling nature of loot boxes.  What makes a gambling addiction so insidious is not that someone sets out to lose far more than he can afford to.  Rather, it's that you lose a little bit of money, and then another little bit, and then another, so many times that it ultimately adds up to far more than you intended to lose.  Companies that tried to still exploit that behavior would have to pay the loot box tax.
    Because as soon as you open the door to tax "lootboxes".. governments will want to tax the "winnings" from the boxes.  That leads down a road of perpetual taxes.
    Which would only further serve to discourage the monetization technique, though.
    Sure.  Kind of like drinking Drain-O to kill the bacteria in your stomach. You really want the tax guy expecting you to list all your "virtual items" at the end of the year and having you pay a certain % of their "value"?


    No, certainly not, but unless there's an RMT market for things you get outta the lootbox, how would the government calculate any value other than $1 or whatever you put in?  Winnings cannot be quantified like cash prizes or real property because there's no actual ownership for the consumer and the value is wholly at the whim of the developer even after the transaction (again, assuming there's no legal RMT market).

    image
  • UngoodUngood Member EpicPosts: 4,525
    Loot boxes are gambling much in the same way rolling the dice in monopoly is gambling. 

    The only variable, is you are paying to roll.
    Shaigh
    Egotism is the anesthetic that dullens the pain of stupidity, this is why when I try to beat my head against the stupidity of other people, I only hurt myself.
  • craftseekercraftseeker Member RarePosts: 1,740
    Ungood said:
    Loot boxes are gambling much in the same way rolling the dice in monopoly is gambling. 

    The only variable, is you are paying to roll.
    Nope, false analogy. Did you read the ruling from the Belgian government? Loot boxes are gambling, just like slot machines are gambling.
This discussion has been closed.