There’s a new log on the continually burning fire regarding gaming lootboxes, their association with gambling, and their effect on young people. A new UK report surveyed 1,100 people aged 11 to 24 about their views towards gambling, which found that many who participated in the study found lootboxes and cosmetic gaming skin betting to be “highly addictive” forms of gambling.
The report comes from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), an independent health education charity and public health body in the UK that believes “everyone should have the opportunity to optimise their health and wellbeing.” The organization’s report, titled Skins in the Game, seeks to add its support for broader definitions of gambling in the UK, including classifying lootboxes as gambling in order to regulate the practice.
According to the report, 79% of those who participated find lootboxes as highly addictive, and 90% believe that buying lootboxes is a completely normal activity. 38% said that young people are likely to take part in gambling because they are unaware that activities they’re taking part in fall under the definition of gambling, while most consider that buying lootboxes (58%) or participating in skin betting (60%) is a form of gambling. Furthermore, 55% believe that playing a mobile or video game could lead to a young person gambling. Participating in gambling or gambling-like activities such as these could lead to further destructive behaviors like alcohol or substance abuse as well as increased depression or anxiety, according to study respondents.
What should be done about it? According to those who participated in the study, more information on the health risks of gambling should be taught in schools, teachers and parents should be given more information about gambling harms, and the purchase of lootboxes and skin betting should fall under the legal definition of gambling. The RSPH is also calling on game devs to create “a set of criteria and the technology required to identify problematic in-game spending.”