Are Video Game Loot Boxes Gambling?

Controversy has erupted over loot boxes in video games, and how they seem to be a form of gambling, forced into standard video games. For those unfamiliar with the loot box system in video games, it may all seems like a great big controversy over nothing. But, for those familiar with video games, and how loot box systems are becoming ever more prevalent, there does seem to be reason for outrage. Especially given that video games open to children are adopting loot boxes.

Let’s take a look at loot boxes in video games, and see if they can or can’t be considered the same as gambling.

What Is a Loot Box?

In modern video games loot boxes are a way of giving digital items of value to players. For example, a person may play an hour or two of a game, and earn a loot box for that time played. What is in the loot box is a mystery, and will not be known until the box is opened. Whatever the item is, it will add to the value of the game, even if just a small amount.

The item may be a digital outfit, a digital weapon, or any other such object that adds content to the game, even if just cosmetic in nature. So far, this is certainly not gambling, given that the player is not spending any money on the loot box. Problems arise, however, in recent video games where the option has introduced for players to pay for the loot boxes, with real money.

Now a player is paying money for an unknown item of unknown value, and it isn’t surprising that many are saying this represents a form of digital gambling. But is this really the case? There seems to be some correlation to gambling games such as slot games, but is there really? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is The Definition Of Gambling?

To really understand the situation, one must first understand what constitutes as gambling, according to the law. For an activity to be gambling, a person must pay money, otherwise known as placing a bet, and accept whatever outcome is given as a result for that bet. It may be a high value reward, or it may be nothing at all. In other words, in the traditional definition of gambling the player has the chance to lose their bet entirely, and not receive anything of value at all.

And this is the major difference between loot boxes in video games, and actual gambling. In loot box systems in video games, if a person puts down money they are guaranteed to get something of value in return, even if the reward represents an item of low value. There is a guaranteed reward, always, one hundred per cent of the time. So, in this regard one cannot say that loot box systems are gambling.

It should be mentioned that gambling authorities have indeed inspected loot box systems, and all have concluded that loot boxes are not gambling, and cannot be regulated by any gambling authorities.

Gamers Still Not Happy

But despite the conclusion that loot boxes do not represent gambling by definition of the law, modern gamers are still not happy about the situation. The other problem is that the loot boxes are often not just objects of simple cosmetic value, but also items that offer an advantage over others playing the game. And, given that many of the games that contain loot boxes are based around players fighting one another, it means that a player who is willing to spend more money will inevitably have an advantage over players who have spent less money.

In this fashion the game, by it’s very design, is encouraging players to spend more money, in hopes of getting an advantage over other players. It’s obvious that such a situation would cause outrage, and it is no wonder that tempers are rising over this system.

It should be kept in mind that online casinos, which are strictly gambling by definition of the law, keep the notion of risking money to make money as upfront and clearly understood as possible. The loot box system in video games seems to be less straightforward, which is probably a large part of why outrage is occurring.

Don’t Buy And It Will Fade

The simple conclusion one can draw about loot box systems in video games is that if no one bought them, there would be no reason to keep putting them in video games. If the system failed, it would no longer have reason to be used.

This may be of little comfort to those who are already playing these games, and feeling cheated, but one can rest assured that if loot box systems are a failure, that they will surely disappear from video games fairly soon. The only question that remains is to whether players will buy the loot boxes or not.

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