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Problem Gambling: Loot Boxes

Gambling doesn't always look the way we think it does; casinos, scratch-off tickets, etc. Despite the legal age to gamble being 18 in New York state, people of all ages are exposed to gambling in everyday life. This means that anyone, regardless of age, can develop an addiction to gambling. Young people may begin gambling through card games, gifted scratch offs, sports betting, gambling apps, or online gaming. 

Studies show that Loot Boxes, a feature in hundreds of different video games, have clear links to problem gambling in young people. Loot Boxes are features in online games that are purchased either with virtual currencies or with actual money. The randomized, in-game rewards that come from Loot Boxes can aid a player's progress or change the appearance of their characters. Players do not now what they're going to get when they use Loot Boxes, which contributes to the gambling experience; however, this gaming feature is seen as a "loophole" in gambling laws. Randomized rewards that come without incentive to spend real-world money are not considered Loot Boxes.

It is estimated that around 40% of young people play video games that feature Loot Boxes. Around 5% of those who use Loot Boxes generate half of the revenue that video game companies make each year. It is thought that a third of that 5% are problem gamblers. Some popular games that feature Loot Boxes include League of Legends, Magic: The Gathering, Overwatch, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and several games in the Halo, Call of Duty, FIFA, NBA 2K, and Madden NFL franchises. 


Preventing Problem Gambling Among Teens


Through education, observation, and planning, there are several ways parents, teachers, and community members can prevent gambling among young people. 

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