Are loot boxes gambling?

As most of us know Monzo has a gambling block:
Various gambling commissions are looking at regulating loot-boxes
For those that are not sure what loot boxes are:
And with young adult problem gambling becoming such a problem:
Gambling Report
Mostly page 22.

  1. Do you think lootboxes are gambling?
  2. Does this mean that the gambling block should be extend to games websites that use lootboxes?
    For my answers
  3. Yes, I do think they are gambling and can produce complusive behaviour
  4. Yes, I think vendors who support lootboxes should be added to the gambling block.
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I am really pushing for more attention to be given towards the effects of things like loot boxes, and the approach to Children and the introduction to the world of gambling effects!

Loot boxes do exactly the same reaction as a gambler would take, pay money, to get a chance to get the “jackpot”.

To be honest the app stores should get more “clever” and be putting the transactions for loot boxes and any gambling style in app purchases through as a gambling transaction to be picked up by blocks like Monzo, or Children debit cards.

Here is a post I put on twitter recently about bringing better age restrictions to casino based ‘virtual money’ apps, these are nearly all rated 12+:

Next I want all sports kits to not allow gambling sponsorship… When we were younger, if Nike sponsored your club, you would often buy Nike clothes as they were the brand… So what effect is an 8 year old running around with a huge gambling logo on the front having?

I really could keep writing more, but I’m on a short break in work, but that was my rushed opinion on it!


Does this mean I’m actually going to have use twitter? :joy:
Well,I look forward to hearing more when you finish work

Yes. I honestly think some of them are incredibly dangerous.


Up until a few years ago I spent money playing clash Royale where you would buy gems and then spend the gems on chests. These chests would then give cards with varying degrees of rarity. I spent over £100 in one month. Considering at the time I was only earning around £900 a month it was pretty devastating behaviour.

Hopefully this is the kind of thing you mean by loot boxes.

Thankfully now I have a rule of no in app purchases. Not worth spending real money on digital crap! I still play clash Royale… I just do it the slow way. :+1:

With games like this I think that there should be less chests (loot boxes) and more guaranteed purchase items. Which removes the gambling element completely.

As for the straight out gambling games even if they are not with real money, they still are as you can pay to buy chips they should be 18+. kids aren’t allowed to walk in and gamble in William Hill they shouldn’t be allowed to buy chips and gamble that way either.

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@Dannytc Do you know if the vulnerable’s care team is looking into implementing it?
As I don’t know if anyone actually has a counter argument to it?

Yeah, that’s exactly what we mean by loot boxes. There are some worse examples where items in loot boxes can be sold, and if you get a rare item you can make a profit. That makes it literally gambling in my eyes. Fine for it to happen in most cases, but it should be heavily regulated

It’s also worth highlighting the positives to gaming models like this (mobile games with IAP’s).

  1. They are free to download and try out - Great for kids (my kids play them, knowing full well they can’t buy anything else in the game).
  2. They allow the company to have a continued source of income
  3. It’s up to the adult to decide if they want to spend money on the various IAP’s - I used to on some games, but decided it wasn’t beneficial in the long run, and you always play catch up/can never spend enough!
  4. A lot of the time, you can still “compete” at some level, even without the IAP’s - It doesn’t often detract from the game play.

Now, these are comments aimed at the likes of Clash Royale/Clash of Clans etc - Not general gambling apps.

Also - I still prefer to buy my games/software outright where possible.

This is a very interesting topic!

They’re regulated under gambling laws in quite a few countries. My personal opinion is that they are gambling. I’ve personally known people to fall into crippling debt through them. I believe they provoke the same addictive compulsions as gambling, and I’d like to see them regulated.

We’ll be watching how this progresses in the UK very closely.

If anyone reading this is struggling with loot boxes or anything else to do with their spending on video games, or gambling in general, please do DM me - there’s definitely some ways we can help now, depending on your situation.


Another question to ask is whether Apps with IAPs are different to full £60 releases with lootboxes
i.e is clash different to say Overwatch or Call of duty?

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I struggle to justify that full stop.

If you are dropping 40/50/60 quid on a game, it’s disgusting you then need to spend another X amount to unlock various different things.


I think specific in app purchases are different to loot boxes. With in app purchases you pay a specific amount for a specific product (which may be addictive but isn’t gambling).

But with loot boxes you pay a specified amount for an unknown product. You hope that the chest will contain a high value item, but generally it won’t. This is definitely gambling.

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I 100% agree especially if its advantageous to gameplay, I think cosmetic is fine. I know Red dead redemption 2 in game economy was/is totally broken.

Agreed! A very important distinction between loot boxes and “chests” etc from some games.

Yeah the loot box debate is different to most in app purchases.

It’s the psychology behind being encouraged to repeat buy to get the “mega never to be released point boosting item or miss out” style, where you continuously picking out of X amount of hidden items.

There is many people who spend hundreds because of this approach

Alongside the fact we now have 55,000 under 18 reconoigised as gambling addicts in the UK. How can that even be imaginable?

That is a disturbing statistic :pensive:


Even worse.

The Gambling Commission also found that 70,000 youngsters were at risk of being involved in betting and 450,000 children bet regularly - the equivalent of one in seven children aged 11 to 16.

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It’s British culture, we play arcade video games to win token for prizes as kids, we are one of the only places to allow slots machines with £5 jackpot to under 18s, we completely normalise gambling.


I suppose the next thing to question then is what are the solutions?
When an under 18 gets a Monzo account are there certain things they are banned from doing?(Does this apply to any bank with an under 18).?

By the way I mean this style arcade game, not like fun games.

You pay to spin and win token value, very similar to roulette style … Encourages to keep going to win big amounts.