Games with loot boxes should only be avail­able to play­ers of le­gal gam­bling age


Loot boxes in games could lead to prob­lem gam­bling, ac­cord­ing to a study by the Aus­tralian En­vi­ron­ment and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Ref­er­ence Com­mit­tee. Over 7,400 game en­thu­si­asts were sur­veyed for the study, the re­sults of which were pre­sented dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing in Can­berra yes­ter­day, as part of the Aus­tralian se­nate in­quiry into mi­cro-trans­ac­tions and chance-based items.

Par­tic­i­pants who suf­fered a se­ri­ous gam­bling prob­lem were more likely to spend money on loot boxes, the study found. “These re­sults sup­port the po­si­tion of aca­demics who claim that loot boxes are psy­cho­log­i­cally akin to gam­bling,” reads the sub­mis­sion.

“Spend­ing large amounts of money on loot boxes was as­so­ci­ated with prob­lem­atic lev­els of spend­ing on other forms of gam­bling. This is what one would ex­pect if loot boxes psy­cho­log­i­cally con­sti­tuted a form of gam­bling. It is not what one would ex­pect if loot boxes were, in­stead, psy­cho­log­i­cally com­pa­ra­ble to base­ball cards.”

The re­port sug­gests that loot boxes could act as a gate­way to prob­lem gam­bling, not­ing that loot boxes share “im­por­tant char­ac­ter­is­tics” with prob­lem gam­bling. “They may there­fore con­di­tion gamers to re­quire the ex­cite­ment as­so­ci­ated with gam­bling , lead­ing to prob­lem gam­bling.” The op­po­site could be true, too, so says the study: prob­lem gam­blers might find them­selves at­tracted to loot boxes.

Among the ECRC’s rec­om­men­da­tions is that games with loot boxes be re­stricted to play­ers of le­gal gam­bling age (18-years in Aus­tralia). Games would also be re­quired to carry warn­ings about the pres­ence of loot boxes, as well as parental ad­vi­sories.

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