Exploring Video Game Gambling

Jun 5, 2024

Gambling and gaming are both seen as normal activities. Both provide fun, excitement, and escape, especially in a social setting. Some like to spend their days betting on races or playing casino games. Others enjoy purchasing in-game features on mobile games or video games. 

Gaming and gambling are similar in that both can negatively impact your life. At first, this behavior is regarded as harmless. It can turn into problematic behavior that hurts yourself and others around you.

What is gaming gambling?

People of all ages enjoy both gaming and gambling. It's the thrills that make them addicting. Gaming and gambling are often mistaken for the other. Even the gambling industry uses these terms interchangeably, which makes it harder for people to know the difference. 

Despite the confusion, there are notable differences between the two. Gambling involves a level of risk since the outcome is unknown. Common types of gambling include casino games, slots, and lottery. 

Gaming is similar to gambling in which a level of risk is involved. But it doesn't involve money. Gaming normally refers to computer games, video games, or mobile games. 

Both gaming and gambling affect young people. Studies have shown a link between gaming and gambling. Young people who are into online games are likely to develop a gambling addiction. 

What is the relationship between video games and gambling?

The average video game user is 10 years old. According to a study conducted by GambleAware, around 40% of people play video games that include gambling features. For example, players can purchase virtual money or open loot boxes to level up in the game. 

It's hard to escape an online game that doesn't include in-game purchases to "level up." To "level up" means to have enough points to advance to the next level. As a result, video games have normalized gambling among younger users. 

Some online games mimic gambling situations. They might feature graphics and sound often seen in casinos or slot machines. But these games don't offer the opportunity to win money. The most common forms of simulated gambling are loot boxes, skin betting, and social casino games.

Loot Boxes 

Loot boxes are tempting because they have awards that can be won or purchased during the game. Players don't always know what's in the boxes, which increases the risk. The inclusion of loot boxes is what makes gaming similar to gambling. 

Prizes often include supplies, skins, or weapons that help the player progress. The cost of these loot boxes can add up quickly. 

A study from the NSW Youth Gambling in 2020 found the risks involved with loot boxes. Over 36.5% of young adults purchase loot boxes in online games. They spend over $100 per month alone on loot boxes. 

Young players who purchased loot boxes were more likely to play bingo, keno, lotteries, and scratch tickets. They're also more likely to get into fantasy sports betting and other types of betting. Young people diagnosed with problem gambling are more likely to develop a gambling addiction later in life. 

Treatment Options

There are ways to enjoy gambling and gaming in a safe environment. To lower your risk of addiction, set limits on how often you play, how much you spend, and how many events you take part in. 

You should implement all three rules at the same time. However, some people might find that not all three rules are effective. 

You might want to set stricter rules on gambling or gaming if you struggle with one of the following:

  • Drugs or alcohol

  • Other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression

  • A history of problem gambling and video gaming addiction 

These can help you set limits. For example, don't bring your credit or debit card with you to the casino. Only have cash on hand. 

If you frequent gaming or gambling sites, set limits on how much you can add to your account. Your bank can also help you set daily limits or track your spending through a mobile app. You can also use a mobile app that restricts access to online gambling and gaming sites. 

Don't worry about asking for help when you need it. If you find that your gambling or gaming habits are out of control, speak with a licensed mental health professional on Birches Health. You can get support in the comfort of your own home. Speak to someone online at your own time. 

Resources:

Gaming Versus Gambling, And Why The Difference Matters

What’s The Connection Between Video Games And Gambling

Young people’s use of gambling-like products

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