In the last decade, the gaming community has seen a massive rise in the micro transition mostly in the name of loot boxes. popular games like Overwatch, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has loot box since their release.
But its not just limited to online multiplayer games now the majority of the single-player games have also introduced loot boxes the latest examples would be Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Forza Motorsport 7 and more.
There have been multiple debates between gamers over how loot boxes are equal to gambling but even the community seems to be divided over it and has different opinions about if they are actually gambling or not.
But whatever view you may have over loot boxes it doesn’t seem like it would be ending anytime soon as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) a group responsible for rating and assigning an age to Video Games and Apps does not think that loot boxes are gambling.
There have been several calls from the community to ESRB to classify them as gambling but according to one of rep from the rating company, it cannot do it as it does not fit the criteria of gambling. while speaking to Kotaku the rep said
“While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.”
Well the ESRB may not classify loot boxes as gambling but numerous state laws in the USA says otherwise. according to the Florida gambling law section 849.11 says that any game of chance is gambling and further states
Whoever sets up, promotes or plays at any game of chance by lot or with dice, cards, numbers, hazards or any other gambling device whatever for, or for the disposal of money or other thing of value or under the pretext of a sale, gift or delivery thereof, or for any right, share or interest therein, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree
There have been cases like the CSGO Lotto in which Tmartn and Syndicate two popular CS: GO streamers where involved in running Gambling ring where players bet on a box to earn a more costlier Skin and even if you don’t get your desired Skin you will still get a low value one. so essentially you always got something just like what ESRB said.
But later after investigation, The State Law deemed it as a form of gambling Valve was also forced to issue ceased and desist letter to CSGO Lotto and several other sites forcing them to shut down.
But Still, Can The Lootboxes be classified as Gambling?
Honestly, in my opinion, any digital products from any type of loot boxes which do not have any real value outside the game should not be considered as gambling. it just like CS: GO case the reason it was labeled as gambling was due to the fact that the Skins could be converted into real money by selling it.
Like the valve system in which you can always sell Skins of Dota 2 and CS: GO in the Steam market but you can never actually cash it out. this is why the third party website got closed but steam still had their own loot box ecosystem.
But things get shady when third party websites get involved which allows players to use the skins as money for gambling and this is where all the problem and debate over loot boxes are gambling begins.
This is only my opinion tell me what are your views about it in the comment section below.