Dutch court decides FIFA Ultimate Team packs aren’t gambling

The highest court in the Netherlands overturned a ruling from 2020.

Image via EA

FIFA Ultimate Team packs, the game mode’s form of loot boxes, are no longer considered gambling in the Netherlands.

The Dutch Administrative Jurisdiction Division, which is the highest court in the Netherlands, overturned a 2020 ruling that had decided the cards were a form of gambling. As a result of that decision, the court also rescinded a 10 million euro fine that was imposed for violating the Dutch gambling law back in 2020.

The court ruled that buying and opening loot boxes in FIFA Ultimate Team is not an isolated game and that the cards are a part of a game of skill.

“The vast majority of packs are obtained by and used for game participation,” the Netherlands’ Council of State said in a statement, according to a machine translation. “The tradability of the packs on the black market is relative. The black market mainly focuses on trading complete accounts rather than individual packs or their contents.”

The argument that FIFA Ultimate Team cards are a form of gambling has been around for years and countries, mostly European ones, have been investigating the impact of the loot boxes, particularly on children. Belgium, for example, has made EA remove the FIFA Points, one of Ultimate Team currencies that are acquired through money, from the country’s version of the game.

In the Ultimate Team game mode, each player can create their own club and it spans across other sports franchises EA owns, such as Madden NFL and NHL. Even though they can be free-to-play, a large part of the player base buys virtual currencies with real money to open packs and bolster their club. The mode has generated more than $1 billion in revenue for EA every year since 2018, according to industry insider Daniel Ahmad.

EA told Polygon that the Dutch court’s decision confirmed its belief that Ultimate Team doesn’t have any gambling aspects.

“This decision confirms our belief that no aspect of FIFA or FIFA Ultimate Team can be considered gambling under Dutch law,” EA said. “At Electronic Arts our approach to game design puts choice, fun, fairness, and value first. Our priority has always been to make sure that our players in the Netherlands and across the world have a positive experience.”

Last year, in FIFA 21 Ultimate Team, EA made one of the deepest changes to how players can interact with the loot boxes. The company introduced a feature that lets players see what’s inside of a pack and then decide if they want to buy it. The move came amid pressure from several governments, most notably the United Kingdom.