Video Games Loot Boxes and Problem Gambling: Any Connection?

Loot boxes are elements that can be purchased with real money in some modern video games, but that includes random content. The more money players spend on buying loot boxes, the more their dilemma is. There is a clear association between players' loot box spending and the seriousness of gambling problems. 

However, it is not apparent if the connection is a case in which spending on loot box actually causes problem gambling; a case in which the gamble-like nature of buying loot boxes cause problem gamblers to spend more cash; or if it is merely a case in which in-game spending by problem gamblers is generally uncontrollable, not unique to loot boxes. In this article, we seek to find out how there is any connection between loot boxes and problem gambling.

Problems with Loot Boxes

There are a few issues with loot boxes that have been identified. These problems are specifically the shortcomings of loot boxes when the protection of players is considered. Below are two of the major problems with loot boxes.

No Self-Exclusion Services

Gambling problems and their effect on players and society have led to the introduction of self-exclusion services in some parts of the world. However, this step towards the promotion of responsible gambling isn't applicable to loot boxes and is perfect for those who are looking for the possibility to get around GamStop self-exclusion via WG casino brand or any other GamStop-free operator. Players who may be addicted to the purchase of loot boxes or those who treat buying loot boxes as a form of gambling cannot self-exclude. 

The only way they can avoid playing is if they decide to stop on their own, which is the most difficult. In places like the UK, gamblers can self-exclude for as long as they want using GamStop, but this service is also not applicable to those who buy loot boxes.

No Ways To Block Bank Transactions

Unlike the case of outright gambling, players can continue to purchase loot boxes without having their bank transactions blocked. Blocking bank transactions has been a helpful way to curb excessive or suspicious spendings on casinos. While sometimes it can be discomforting for gamblers, it has been more helpful for those needing help.

Because buying loot boxes hasn't been generally accepted as a form of gambling, there is currently no way to block bank transactions.

How Loot Boxes Could Influence Problem Gamblers?

Together with some other microtransaction processes, Loot boxes have recently been described as a somewhat "predatory practice," which captures players into repeated purchasing. Additionally, it has been suggested that loot boxes are "psychologically akin" to other forms of gambling as individuals have to stake money on the unpredictable outcome of a future event in the hope of getting something of greater value.

Some jurisdictions now agree with this and have since taken regulatory action. For instance, Belgium has banned loot boxes' access within certain video games, stating that loot boxes violate gambling legislation. Another instance is that of the gambling authorities in the Netherlands that have recently ruled that certain loot boxes form unlicensed games of chance. In China, it has been made mandatory that the odds of winning be put on display to consumers.

There is some proof that certain consumers themselves now view loot box buying as a form of gambling. In recent separate small-scale surveys carried out in Canada, between 68 and 86 percent of participants confirmed that loot boxes were a kind of gambling and between 75 percent and 79 percent of those participants agreed that the feeling of opening a loot box was similar to that of making a bet. Another study in Great Britain was carried out recently by the Royal Society for Public Health, and it found that 79 percent of people between the ages of 11–24 thought that loot boxes were a highly addictive kind of gambling.

An emerging research base has shown that loot box sales and problem gaming are related, with these results consistent in space and time despite experiments using differing methods. However, the bulk of these studies merely investigate whether loot box transactions are linked with problem gambling. Similar arguments have also occurred within gambling studies, where it is postulated that the relationship between particular types of gambling and gambling problem is confounded by wider interest and engagement in the act of gambling itself.





To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Other Game Page.

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2021