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Video game loot boxes have clear links to problem gambling, study claims

A report commissioned by GambleAware has found that video game loot boxes have clear links to problem gambling.

loot boxes

Researchers from the Universities of Plymouth and Wolverhampton analysed 13 studies into the behaviours of gamers who spend on loot boxes, with all but one of those studies showing a clear correlation between the use of loot boxes and problem gambling behaviour, under the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) measure.

Loot boxes, which allow players to spend money on randomised in-game rewards, are used by almost 40% of children who play video games. The report found that loot boxes were “structurally and psychologically akin” to gambling.

The report comes amid the ongoing Government review of the 2005 Gambling Act, in which loot boxes is one of the issues currently being analysed. A consultation period informing ministers overseeing the review closed earlier this week.

Loot boxes remain unregulated in the UK, while countries such as Belgium consider them to be gambling products.

“We are increasingly concerned that gambling is now part of everyday life for children and young people,” said GambleAware chief executive Zoë Osmond. “GambleAware funded this research to highlight concerns around loot boxes and problem gambling, ahead of the upcoming Gambling Act review.

“It is now for politicians to review this research, as well as the evidence of other organisations, and decide what legislative and regulatory changes are needed to address these concerns.”

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