The video game industry’s recent run-ins with gambling law have mostly involved conversations about loot boxes (such as the UK’s ongoing committee discussion on the topic), but Rockstar’s launch of a full-on casino in Grand Theft Auto Online calls attention to the complications developers navigate when including indisputable gambling in their online games.
The Diamond Casino opened its doors in Grand Theft Auto Online this week, but players are reporting that not all of the new content is available in every country, likely due to region restrictions on online gambling.
According to VG247, Reddit users have put together a crowd-sourced list of countries where the in-game casino’s features aren’t accessible, including places like Poland, Portugal, and South Africa.
If this all sounds a little bit familiar, you may recall that Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar put similar restrictions in place earlier this year when Red Dead Redemption 2’s online mode launched, despite those online games of chance using no premium currency. Red Dead Online does offer a premium currency, but those ‘gold bars’ can’t be directly converted to dollar bills.
The same is only technically true for Grand Theft Auto Online’s new Diamond Casino. In the game, players convert in-game cash to chips for use at the casino, and chips can’t directly be purchased with real-world money. However, that regular in-game currency can be bought through microtransactions, making GTA Online’s gambling a legally murky activity in some places, despite the fact that casino winnings can’t be converted into real-world money in any way.
On Rockstar’s part, the company’s support FAQ loosely explains why some countries and regions aren’t able to partake in Grand Theft Auto Online’s newest content. It’s the same answer that was created around the time of Red Dead Online’s launch, but updated the week before the casino update hit GTA Online.
“Certain features are not available at all times or for all players. This can occur for a number of reasons including regional restrictions, game design, or the incompatibility between features you are interacting with.”