Are Loot Boxes Actually Gambling?

Gambling In Video Games

The latest video games in the industry are being developed and released with additional items that players can purchase. Known as “loot boxes,” these microtransactions allow the player to purchase random upgraded or unique perks that can be used in gameplay. However, some lawmakers are now concerned that the loot box system is encouraging gambling. The main issue is the influence on younger players and the risk of underage gambling among youth.

Barry Grant is a counselor for addiction and established Problem Gambling Ireland in 2016 to focus on the issue of excessive gaming with real money bets. Grant states that the loot box system can potentially lead to children using their parents’ bank cards and accumulating serious debt. He adds that many new video games using the technology share a similar format with online slots and other casino games.

In Europe and the United States, lawmakers are now faced with the challenge of determining whether loot boxes are a form of gambling. The focus is the intention behind any “in-game microtransactions” and if the outcome ultimately harms children the most. A 2015 study shows that individuals can develop a problem with gambling if they start as young as nine years old.

Additionally, many parents are not even aware of what is going on as their children play new video games. Some parents still may be aware but do not understand the severity of the situation. Barry Grant hopes to warn parents that the loot boxes provided in these games should be a central area of concern.

Tim Miller is the chief executive of the Gambling Commission in Britain. Miller states that newer products might not meet the legal definition of gambling. The loot boxes in video game don’t include any way for the player to cash out. However, they can still pose a risk to younger children who hope to find better gear by purchasing items.

Similarities to Online Casinos

While the evidence linking loot boxes to underage gambling is not yet sufficient, the issue is a reminder of the importance of online casino security. The most reputable gaming sites have strict measures in place to screen every player before the player is able to join. This enforcement against underage gambling keeps younger individuals off of online casinos and prevents the use of real money by a minor.

At the end of the day, Barry Grants stresses that parents need to communicate with their children regarding the types of games they are playing. Each parent should also be aware of the security settings on a credit or debit card.