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Why loot boxes could be regulated as gambling

An Author Correction to this article was published on 11 August 2020

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Do purchasable randomised reward mechanisms in video games (loot boxes) constitute gambling? Opinions often rest on whether virtual items obtained from loot boxes have real-world value. Using market data from real transactions, we show that virtual items have real-world monetary value and therefore could be regulated under existing gambling legislation.

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Fig. 1: The relationship between gamers’ spending on video games and virtual items contained within video games.

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This work was supported by the Marsden Fund Council from Government funding, managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi New Zealand; MAU1804 awarded to A.D. and J.D.S. The funders had no role in study design, data analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. We thank C. Ferguson for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Aaron Drummond.

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Drummond, A., Sauer, J.D., Hall, L.C. et al. Why loot boxes could be regulated as gambling. Nat Hum Behav 4, 986–988 (2020).

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