New Study Suggests Loot Box Purchasers Are More Vulnerable To Gambling Problems

Loot boxes are in almost every major game these days, but they remain one of the most controversial topics in the space. New research from CQUniversity in Australia suggests that there’s a correlation between players who purchase loot boxes and those who experience more serious gambling problems.

The study, which analyzed the behavior of nearly 2000 people, revealed that 69.4% of the research group had opened a loot box in a game in the last year. However, only 32.9% said that they had purchased a loot box in that same time period, meaning that a large percentage of players merely open the ones the game gives them through regular play. The study found that this latter group– those respondents who had purchased one or more loot boxes–were more likely to engage in other forms of gambling, gamble more frequently, and suffer from a gambling compulsion.

“For both young adults and adolescents, there was a strong association between current loot box use and gambling risk,” a portion of the study reads. “Consequently, although median expenditure on loot boxes is modest, there is evidence that these products are associated with harmful gambling involvement.”

Though this study was sponsored by the Australian government, it remains to be seen if any laws will be enacted to protect potentially vulnerable populations. Previously, a report from a Australian government committee recommended that an age gate should be mandated to purchase loot boxes. At least one bill has been proposed to ban loot boxes in the US, although the measure has failed to gain much traction so far.

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