UK charity GambleAware claims loot boxes "akin to gambling"

Causation or correlation?

UK charity GambleAware claims loot boxes "akin to gambling"

UK charity GambleAware has released a new report into video game loot boxes.

The research – conducted by the Universities of Plymouth and Wolverhampton – says that there is robust evidence this business model is "structurally and psychologically" the same as gambling.

The report took self-reported data from 7,771 people who buy loot boxes and discovered that five per cent of the population makes up half of the revenue generated by loot boxes in a given year; in 2020, this was £700 million ($968 million).

Furthermore, the research says that a third of gamers fall into the category of "problem gambler."

Gambling problem

"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’," said Dr James Close, senior research fellow at the University of Plymouth.

"We have also demonstrated that at-risk individuals, such as problem gamblers, gamers, and young people, make disproportionate contributions to loot box revenues.

“We have made a number of policy suggestions to better manage these risks to vulnerable people, although broader consumer protections may also be required.”

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