We have seen a rise in gaming/skill-based elements in gambling, and an increase in gambling-related elements in online gaming over the years. There are growing concerns surrounding the blurred lines between gambling and gaming, which is likely to become more widespread given the rise and reliance of technology (King et al., 2015).
One such technological development is the emergence of "loot boxes" in various video games, which is a type of micro-transaction that players can purchase (with real money). However, unlike other in-game purchases, players don't know what's inside these "loot boxes" before they buy them. Contents are randomly generated, and range between weapons, skins, or advancement opportunities (Abarbanel, 2018).
There is some debate as to whether "loot boxes" should be considered a form of gambling.
Supporters of "loot boxes" argue that they are not gambling because the prizes have no financial worth as they can only be used in the game (Abarbanel, 2018).
Opponents argue that "loot boxes" fit the very definition of gambling, meeting all 3 elements of gambling classification outline by Abarbanel, 2018 :
1. Consideration (risking something of value, e.g. purchasing "loot boxes" with real money)
2. Change (element of uncertainty, e.g. contents of "loot boxes" are unknown and randomly assigned)
3. Prize (potential reward or outcome, e.g. contents of "loot boxes" can be used to advance in the game)
Abarbanel, B. (2018). Gambling vs. gaming: A commentary on the role of regulatory, industry, and community stakeholders in the loot box debate. Gaming Law Review, 22(4), 231-234.
King, D.L., Gainsbury, S.M., Delfabbro, P.H., Hing, N. & Abarbanel, B. (2015). Distinguishing between gaming and gambling activities in addiction research. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 4 (4),