It’s time to get your bets in, because gambling within games might be striking out soon…

I’m putting my bets in that it won’t be long before the term ‘gamebling’ pops up in the news. It wouldn’t be surprising if it’s already been coined, because the gambling culture embedded within the gaming community is rapidly growing. 

No longer is the gambling element of games flying under the radar, as more and more news outlets cover the issue.

Gamers Classified recently covered the news that the Federal Trade Commission Chairman would be launching an investigation into the matter. The reason cited was predominantly the protection of children and education of parents.

Many gamers, who are relatively comfortable with an even used to the idea of gambling within gaming communities, may have found this a strange idea. Gambling, while a relatively new force in the gaming industry with the uprising of ‘loot boxes’, has always had roots in gaming.

Loot boxes are not inherently bad things for gaming, despite being described as an ‘endemic’, by Australian Senator, Maggie Hassan.

TomsGuide described loot boxes as “digital grab bags that players have to spend real or in-game currency on, and the trick is that you never know what’s inside”.

Loot Boxes have become an unwavering force in games. Source: https://www.forbes.com

Loot boxes are just another part of the growing culture of micro-transactions in gaming. Micro-transactions have been around for years, but only recently does it seem like games are edging on the side of ‘pay to play’.

Many games now utilise micro-transactions and in-game payments as a way to get the most out of the gaming experience. Now, rather than allowing players to gain XP and unlock more items over time, more and more we find ourselves having to pay for them.

Star Wars Battlefront was one of the games to be criticised for its use of microtransactions. Source: starwars.ea.com

It’s become such a hot-topic that many people actually want to see the trend be completely banned. Belgium gambling laws even declared loot boxes illegal. With the launch of the investigation underway by the Federal Trade Commission, for Australian gamers, this may not be far away.

But what makes loots boxes and other means of gambling within games, any different from regular gambling? It comes down to the ability to monitor those who participate.

Websites like Sportsbet, it is much more difficult to verify the age of those participating. This is usually verified by the credit card of they who make the account, thus excluding minors from the activity. Loot boxes generally fail to take the same measures.

It is a very sad and bleak reality that children are developing gambling problems. Loot boxes undeniably need to have tighter restrictions to prevent those below the legal gambling age from partaking.

But the companies allowing this practise seem to be only focused on the constant influx of cash. In a world turned by money, are we really surprised that this has gotten out of hand?

Lover of literature and gaming from Melbourne, I’m a massive fan of story-based gaming and how video games are quickly becoming the next great form of storytelling - Anything story-based or a good survival-horror are my absolute favourites. Currently studying Writing and Literature at Swinburne University and hoping to take it into the gaming industry.