GambleAware Report Finds Association Between Loot Boxes and Gambling

Findings from a recent study into gaming and gambling by the University of Plymouth and the University of Wolverhampton published by GambleAware concluded there is a direct link between Loot Boxes and gambling problems.

Gambling Act Review

Loot Boxes are in-game purchases where a random reward is given to potentially enhance gameplay. A player has no idea which reward they’ll receive therefore not dissimilar to gambling. A current review of the Gambling Act 2005 is underway, and the findings are set to be considered. In the UK alone 93% of children play video games and 40% have purchased loot boxes.A report on 7,771 players who purchased loot boxes found a third of these gamers fell into the ‘problem gambler’ category with a high correlation between gamers purchasing more loot boxes and problem gambling. The results of screening 14,000 gamers found men more likely to purchase loot boxes including those of a younger age and a lower educational achievement were more likely to purchase loot boxes.

‘Fear of Missing Out’

Moreover, loot box purchasers experienced a degree of personal, social, and gameplay factors which encouraged them to open loot boxes for fear of ‘missing out on limited offers’. Digital assets in loot boxes often have real-world/or psychological value suggesting loot boxes could be regulated under the Gambling Act.To prevent loot boxes become a gambling problem, researchers have suggested further policies to protect gamers, these include:*Clear definition of loot boxes*Gambling labelling and enforceable age ratings*Odds fully disclosed in a manner that is easily understood*Prices and spend limits shown in real currencyThe new policy should be embedded in the new regulations or changes made to existing gambling legislation.Researcher at the University of Plymouth Dr. James Close said, “Our work has established that engagement with loot boxes is associated with problem gambling behaviours, with players encouraged to purchase through psychological techniques such as fear of missing out. We have also demonstrated that at-risk individuals, such as problem gamblers, and young people, make disproportionate contributions to loot box revenues.”Policymakers will now study the report and evidence from other organisations as they continue to review the current Gambling Act and implement regulatory changes in order to further protect gamers from gambling-related harm.

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