Loot Crates and The Effect of Gambling on Minors

By: Matthew Willarch

OwlFeed Journalist

Gambling is a huge industry in America, one of the things that helped build the country. It’s the thrill and curiosity that keeps people coming back, but gambling can be very addictive more often than not.

Photo Credit: pcgamesn.com

So imagine if that gambler was using your money. You’d be pretty upset, I´d imagine. Now think if that person was a minor like you and me, and worse still imagine if they had no idea they were actually gambling in the first place, you’d probably feel sympathy and remorse. Well you can stop imagining, because it’s happening right now.

Gambling, by definition,  is ¨the activity or practice of playing at a game of chance for money or other stakes,¨ said dictionary.com, so gambling generally refers to games that a person plays for the possibility at a large amount of cash. The difference between gambling and say winning a prize at an event is, more often than not, if you are entering an event you are guaranteed something, unlike with gambling.

So if the risk is typically greater than the reward, why do people often form addictions? An article by High Speed Training stated, “The brain becomes conditioned into wanting more and more to trigger its reward system, to the point where its mental wiring becomes significantly altered.” This means, like any addiction, one develops a unhealthy and often illegal tolerance that tempts them to gamble more and more.

¨Well if gambling is illegal then how does it affect minors in any way?” is what you might asking at this point in time. Well, certain businesses have found loopholes that affect people in the way that gambling does, loopholes that are completely legal and are strategically aimed at the younger generation.

It sounds terrifying, so why haven’t you heard about this then? Well if you’ve heard of games like “Call of Duty,” “Halo”, or “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” then you have heard of it before. In these games and those that follow a similar format there are things that are often referred to as loot crates. Within these loot crates are digital items that are singularly relevant to the game you’re playing, only attainable through real world money.

The loophole that the industry has formed within these games is its distinction of never being losing out on anything due to a guaranteed prize from these loot crates. However in most video games there is the possibility of getting duplicates, ones that make it possible to get two of the same item rendering the first one useless. Therefore debatably speaking you are paying a random service for the possibility to get nothing in return, just like gambling.

In an article by BBC news, posted on November 21, 2018, they claimed the number of underage gamblers has quadruped, and that this may be because of loot boxes in video games.

They found that over the past 12 months 39% of 11-16 year olds have spent their own money on gambling, 6% had gambled online using a parent or guardian’s account and 60% of young people think their parents would prefer them not to gamble at all. However, only 19% said their parents set strict rules about gambling.

“The commission also raised concerns that close to a million young people had been exposed to gambling,” said the article, “through ‘loot boxes’ in video games or on smartphone apps.”

In brighter news, Belgium has deemed all forms of loot boxes to be gambling meaning that there are some repercussions to the actions that these companies are partaking in.

So my advice for life: stay away from gambling.