It seems that even the mighty behemoth that is Electronic Arts will receive no mercy from the swift hammer of the Belgian gambling authorities. The Belgian Kansspelautoriteit or ‘Gambling Commission’ has just decreed that the sale of the FIFA Ultimate Team card packs in FIFA 19 is now officially regarded as gambling, and will no longer be permitted to be sold in-game.
As we wrote in an article back in 2018, Belgium has been clamping down on several major publishers due to the fact that players can wager real money on randomised virtual items. The Kansspelautoriteit deemed this practice unacceptable after it was discovered that the age of players was not explicitly monitored, and thus made a online structure of gambling accessible to underage players (since the virtual items had tangible value).
As such, Valve had to withdraw loot boxes from CS:GO and DOTA 2, while Blizzard had to do the same for Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm. EA, however, took a stand against the commission and claimed to contest the ruling by the Belgian gambling authorities. Unfortunately for the publisher, the Gambling Commission made it public on the 29th of January that their FIFA Ultimate Team card packs is no exception to the law.
Much like Valve, EA expressed sentiments of disagreement in an official statement on their website. The publisher declared that it will continue to engage with the Kansspelautoriteit with the intention of finding an agreeable compromise to reintroduce the card packs into the game since they disagree with the ruling. Nonetheless, they also left no doubt that they wish to comply with the ruling issued by the commission, which means Belgian players will currently be unable to purchase them.
You can read EA’s full statement here.