Gambling and Video Games: What Do We Know? Should We Worry?

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In the United States, at least 65% of adults have gambled and/or played a video game in the past year. An emerging form of entertainment combines gambling and video game play and has led to an approximately $30 billion per year industry. Despite an explosion in growth, this form of potentially high-risk behavior has received little research attention. This paper will present a systematic review of the available peer-reviewed and grey literature related to gambling on video games.

Our review identifies three major methods of combining gambling and video games. First is betting directly on the outcomes of eSports, either with money or via skin gambling. Second is gambling within video games where players purchase a chance to win a valued prize or consumable virtual item (e.g., loot box, prize crate, gacha). Prizes change the within game experience, from superficial items that change an in-game character’s appearance to items that substantially improve a player’s chance of winning. Further, if desired, these items can be sold for actual money in secondary marketplaces. Third, there are gamified casino games with the sequential, skill-based feel of video games and real money at stake.

Implications: This paper is the first comprehensive review of this nascent literature. Results will provide clinicians with important insights into the language and behaviors of clients who gamble on video games. Further, findings may have future policy implications as some gambling on video games is potentially accessible to underage gamblers.


Las Vegas, NV

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