Why loot boxes could be regulated as gambling

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.

Data availability

The Steam Market data are available at https://osf.io/8xmrt/ and the survey data are available at https://osf.io/2jgph/.


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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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The authors declare no competing interests.

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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 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0900-3

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