Gambling in Video Games – A Bleak Future?

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Gambling in Video Games

Gambling using your video game console may appear to be a completely new phenomenon, especially if you’ve heard stirrings in the news lately. However, video games betting has been around for nearly as long as the titles themselves, but recent problems have led to a substantial backlash against publishers.

Many regions have either outlawed certain types of video games gambling recently or have plans to do so soon. But what’s caused such a fuss and will it spell the end for this kind of wagering? Let’s take a look at exactly how to gamble on video games to measure whether the future is bleak.

Loot Boxes

Let’s start off simple: a loot box is an in-game virtual container that’s filled with a prize or prizes. They’re often called prize crates or loot crates – and the reason for the name is obvious: they’re literally designed like boxes, crates, or safes which are full with random goodies to use in your game.

The first loot crates were introduced to players in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). This soon developed into a way of making money. Developers began to offer games for free (smartphone game apps) or at least cheaper as they could rely on players buying prize crates and additional features to secure more revenue.

This combination of paying for a random item with actual money has hit some major speed bumps in recent times though. That’s because some believe that loot boxes constitute a form of gambling.

Will there be a Worldwide Loot Box Ban?

This really depends on each country, but there’s no doubt that prize crates are at the forefront of gambling in video games at the moment. Whether they become extinct across the globe remains to be seen. However, this is what a select few countries have said so far:

  • UK Gambling Commission – Recently stated that loot boxes are not gambling despite “significant concerns”. (1)
  • Belgium – Loot boxes in Belgium were defined as illegal and were subsequently banned. (2)
  • Netherlands – Declared that some prize crates were illegal and threatened fines until they were removed. (3)

Although there’s no loot box ban in the UK, there is a groundswell of criticism that’s beginning to apply pressure on legislators. Many parents have publicly complained about children emptying their bank accounts, or else spending thousands of pounds on prize crates.

Moreover, another way to gamble on video games – known as skin betting – has already received strong criticism in previous years. This resonated more like real online gambling, as players would actually place bets but would use certain in-game items rather than money. This practice was quickly shunned by many publishers – and loot crates could well be the next to go.

GTA 5 Online Casino Update – Is it Betting?

Yet at the same time, GTA 5’s casino update has just launched which sees the introduction of the long-awaited Diamonds Casino in East Vinewood. So, how does this differ from what we’ve been talking about?

Initial rumors spread that it could actually be a rival to online casinos who offer real money bets. Instead, it turned out to be for in-game money only – similar to other GTA online purchase systems.

But get this – you can purchase virtual GTA dollars for real money! These in-game dollars allow you to buy things like:

This means you can play with real money but not withdraw real money. While this might sound disappointing to some, it stops Rockstar from going over the line as the winnings are only in-game and do not have a monetary value.

As for GTA loot boxes, Rockstar did not include them in the game – despite making a whole lot of money through players purchasing virtual GTA dollars.

References

  1. “UK regulator: Loot boxes fall outside of current gambling law” – Polygon
  2. “Belgium defines video game loot boxes as illegal gambling” – TheVerge
  3. “CS:GO update blocks players in Netherlands and Belgium from opening loot boxes” – Eurogamer