Loot boxes are virtual items that are available to plays for purchase in games with actual money. In these boxes, users will get a random selection of items that alter or customize their experience of the game. These boxes do not offer users any physical objects in the real world despite their payment with actual money. The items in a loot box can be anything from skins, new weapons, or access to new game characters.
Netherlands and Belgium have introduced restrictions on loot boxes, but New Zealand and the UK are in favor of game publishers. The view of the supporting countries is that loot boxes are not akin to gambling.
Currently, there is no public announcement by the Indian IT ministry and the National Indian Gaming Commission regarding loot boxes.
Loot boxes could be considered gambling under the Constitution of India
Gambling and betting is a state subject under the Indian Constitution, so each state has its own legislation on gambling. Though state legislations are somewhat different from each, there is a standard definition of gambling characterized by “risk” for “reward.” Gambling is only legal in some Indian states, while it is illegal in most others.
Gambling in India is constituted by a player getting a reward either in the form of cash or something valuable. Hence, the definition of gambling in India could have a similar interpretation as it does under Belgian laws. Might this have an adverse implication for people buying loot boxes in Indian states where gambling is Illegal?
Buying loot boxes involves risking cash for the reward of the box’s content. This transaction interprets a process that automatically matches the definition of gambling under the Indian constitution. This means is that, under the Indian constitution, buying loot boxes is considered the same as gambling on online casino sites.
There has been a recent growth in popularity of online casino sites in India. However, no announcement has been made about these sort of games by the Indian government.
So far India’s IT ministry has made no public announcements about loot boxes
The IT ministry and national Indian Gaming Commission are yet to say anything regarding the legality of loot boxes. However, video game revenues in India passed the ₹37 Billion ($500 million) mark in 2017. It is also estimated the Indian Gaming Industry will cross $1 Billion by 2021; thus, officials may be observing on-going investigations.
It won’t be a surprise if they launch an investigation soon to determine the government’s stance on this matter.
Nevertheless, while the Indian government stalls on taking a stand on the subject, loot boxes are technically not considered Illegal.
To answer the question of whether or not buying loot boxes is illegal in India, the answer is yes. This is because purchasing loot boxes fits the description of gambling under the Indian constitution. The legality of gambling in Indian is indeed a state affair, and most states don’t support it. But this doesn’t imply that you cannot purchase loot boxes in India.
The government of countries like The UK and New Zealand has taken a stand on the legality of loot boxes. In these two places, the government doesn’t see the purchase of loot boxes as gambling; thus, it is legal. However, Investigations into the status of buying loot boxes as gambling have begun in the United States of America. If the outcome of this investigation reveals that buying loot boxes is gambling, it might attract an outright ban.
Nevertheless, If you are in India and would like to use loot boxes, you can do so without worry. Most loot boxes are purchased from outside India, and there is no law against that. Loot boxes in India attract no legal consequences for both developers and buyers. One can only bother if the Indian government says loot boxes are Illegal, and that is yet to happen.