Surprising gambling discovery recently made: does it make sense?

By Mike Fatouros | Updated: February 27th, 2023

New research out of CQUniversity Australia’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory (EGRL) has identified a link between loot boxes and real-life gambling problems. But wait, loop box, what is that, exactly? 

Before you shake your head, I’m sure you’ve already heard about it. How could you not, they are extremely popular. We’ve seen it (and still do) in various games, such as Mario, GTA, need for speed… you name it. It’s that little box in any form of hidden treasure, actually. It’s just there. And it screams to be collected.

Yet, loot boxes in video games are expressly close to gambling because the players invest both time and even money to obtain them. Most importantly, it is a prize of uncertain value, or even with no value at all. Also, in-game bonuses earned from loot boxes include a virtual currency. Eventually, the purchase of loot boxes turned into unregulated gambling products.

About the study itself

What recent study found out about these loot boxes was quite stunning. According to the study, gamers who find themselves buying loot boxes may be a step closer to online casino Australia real money and gambling spheres than others who pass on to these add-ons.

First, researchers chose a scope of society, according to its statistical vulnerabilities with gambling and vast use of video games. The chosen ones were in the age group of 12 to 24 living in NSW. 

After analyzing their behaviour, the result has shown that 22.3 per cent of participants admitted they had gambling problems. The statistic was unusually high and potentially not representative of trends in NSW’s population.

EGRL also analyzed the current video games market, which revealed that 62 per cent of the top best-selling video games offer loot boxes. 93.2 per cent of respondents had played one or more of these games in the last 12 months. Actually, more than half of them have opened a loot box from those games. 

The point of loot boxes

So, I’m sure this thought has already crossed your mind. Why are these loot boxes even purchased? Well, the most common reason for taking a loot box, according to the participants of the study, was to gain an advantage in the game. Gambling, as impressive as it sounds, was identified as another motivation.

Loot boxes are addictive, as most of the young people in the study had agreed. 53.8 per cent of them indeed agreed they were a type of gambling, which is most expected due to the positive psychological impacts when acquiring these loot boxes. Important to note that young adults who recently purchased a loot box were actually more prone to have gambling problems in the future.

Study lead author Professor Matthew Rockloff expressed their opinion in the EGRL press release: “[Loot boxes] are a growing concern because of the risk and reward elements associated with them that are similar to gambling, and there are currently no age limits to play these games.” 

There was a clear link drawn between current use of loot boxes and present gambling: participants of the study have shown they are more likely to have gambled more frequently in the last 12 months. The study indeed outlined a significant link between the two activities, identifying notable gambling risks associated with loot boxes:

Final notes

It’s currently unclear whether these findings will influence the government’s actions, yet it’s certainly a critical study. Does it mean loot boxes are pure evil and should be taken down? 

Well… it’s not that simple. Although loot boxes and in-game purchases have been in Australian’s government radar for quite a while now, this study will certainly create additional debate about the use of loot boxes in popular games which could lead to video pokies.

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