Online gambling is now child’s play


Online gambling has become easy for children to take part in. Photo credit: Rachael Bayuk

Imagine a huge casino for children, a place with no supervision, specifically designed for them to gamble away their parent’s money. They go in and soon get addicted to the thrill. The desire to “win big” leads them to spend more and more, without understanding what they are doing to themselves. This place is real.

Gambling has a long and often (rightfully) vilified history. It often distorts the player’s reality and countless amounts of people have lost it all due to its addicting qualities.

With the advent of the Internet, gambling is now a bit more mainstream. But, this new and youthful form is carefully disguised behind colorful loot boxes in “free-to-play” (FTP) games, such as the hit game Overwatch. This new gambling is now accessible to the young and impressionable, who do not have a sense of financial responsibility.

Overwatch allows one to play the game with no charge, however, the player is constantly enticed to pay money to get crates. Each crate has a predetermined chance of getting a cosmetic upgrade for the player’s character or other types of goodies.

How many of these chests would one have to purchase to get what they wanted from them? More importantly, what would the cost be? This figure could be in the low tens to hundreds of dollars.

This is exactly the definition of what gambling is; spending money to obtain an unlikely outcome. It is really worrying to see, given the predominance that FTP games have in mainstream video games, a result of FTP app store games.

As a gamer myself, (I’ve only bought loot boxes twice, also in a FTP game) it is hard for me to see this trend reversing, unless this type of gambling is banned in the United States. Given that people spend over 30 billion dollars on loot boxes in the United States every year.

The worst part is that children and young people watch Youtuber’s online opening dozens of these boxes, which further encourages these frivolous purchases.

It is one thing when you are an adult and you have hopefully gained a sense of financial responsibility, but it is another when you are a child. Youth shouldn’t be exposed to such an evil and psychological conning tactic dedicated to manipulate you into giving video game corporations your parents money. This isn’t right.

Thankfully, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now considering banning the existence of loot boxes in the United States, stating that they “mirror casinos and games of chance.”

Belgium has also gone a step further and decided to label these video game loot boxes in games like “Overwatch”, “Counter-Strike” , and “Battlefront II” as “child gambling”, in a progressive move that will hopefully spread to the rest of the world.

Do yourself a favor and don’t buy these gambling loot boxes, and more importantly, spread the word to your family and friends. If they have kids, tell them to not allow the playing of FTP games! They are not free from psychological manipulation.

If you or someone you know is facing a gambling problem reach out to the campus Health and Wellness Center for counseling or contact the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG.)

Call 1-800-522-4700


Text 1-800-522-4700

Reed McCoy can be reached at [email protected] or @ReedMcCoy6