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Hawaii Launches Investigation Into EA Over Gambling Concerns

Hawaii launched an investigation into game developer Electronic Arts over “predatory practices” and gambling concerns involving the company’s new game “Star Wars: Battlefront II,” according to a Wednesday report.

Calling the game an “online casino,” Hawaiian Democrat Rep. Chris Lee announced the investigation in a Tuesday press conference, according to Game Informer. “Star Wars: Battlefront II” and EA more broadly have received a deluge of criticism for micro-transactions, or purchases made in-game with real-world money.

The game “is a Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money,” said Lee. “It’s a trap.”

The representative said the government would be examining the notion of banning “Star Wars: Battlefront II” for sale to children, as well as the prospect of banning certain elements of the game. He noted that other states are also analyzing the situation.

“We turned off in-game purchases,” said John Reseburg, brand and corporate communications vice president at EA, to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That is explained here, with an apology to our community that the design lead to unintended circumstances and concern.”

The Belgian Gambling Commission is currently investigating whether lootboxes, a feature in Battlefront II, constitute gambling, according to gameindustry.biz.

WATCH:

Hawaiian state Democrat Rep. Joe Quinlan compared the gambling-oriented devices in the game, which he claimed was marketed to children, to Joe Camel, a character alleged to have targeted children in smoking ads.

“Gambling’s addictive,” said a mother at the hearing. “For parents, we can’t protect our children from everything. …We can’t control it, so we do need help from regulations to help set boundaries.”

“I have a six-month-old daughter now,” said one unnamed gamer. “I kind of see that the world she’s growing up in — I better try and make changes now before she grows up and she’s exposed to all of this stuff.”

EA received criticism from the gaming community earlier in November for charging players $80 to unlock Darth Vader in “Battlefront II.” (RELATED: EA’s Explanation For Why You Have To Pay $80 More To Play As Vader Made History For Its Reddit Beat Down)

Editor’s Note: The original version of this article cited reporting that the Belgian Gambling Commission had determined loot boxes to be gambling. That reporting was incorrect, and we have updated accordingly.

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