The most recent update for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has directly responded to anti-loot box rulings and legislation in the Netherlands and Belgium by blocking players in those countries from opening them.
Back in April, the Netherlands ruled that four unnamed games (one of which we can now guess was CS:GO) did not comply with Dutch gambling laws because their loot boxes and loot box items could be traded between players and, therefore, had real-world value. If the games did not comply with regulations, the Dutch Gambling Commission would either impose fines or ban the sales of those games outright.
Belgium quickly followed suit, creating similar legislation to the Dutch and imposing even harsher penalties on game publishers that did not comply with their gambling laws, including a five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to 800,000 euros (or $974,000). Belgium’s ruling also differed from the Netherlands’ in that it specifically named CS:GO, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Star Wars Battlefront II in violation of its gambling laws.
Prior to the CS:GO update, publisher Valve removed item trading from CS:GO and Dota 2 in the Netherlands. However, with this update, that feature is now reinstated, and while it sounds like Dutch players still have the ability to purchase containers (CS:GO‘s loot boxes), they will just no longer be able to open them.
Loot boxes are a lucrative business, considering it costs almost nothing to develop and publish new skins compared to how much money publishers can make from selling digital items. It seemed unlikely that publishers would be okay with outright removing loot boxes from their games, so it will be interesting to see if these half-measures from CS:GO are enough to avoid punishment in the only two countries that have produced any real anti–loot box legislation, or if those countries will want to show a little more muscle in their campaign to, in their paraphrased words, save children and minors from forming gambling habits.