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Video Games May Be A Gateway To Gambling Addiction

We’ve often heard the term “gateway drug,” in reference to addiction and the path to hard narcotics. And, interestingly enough, the same can be said with other types of dependencies. Problem gamblers, for instance, may be lured into their habits via video games; according to some recent research shared on the Forbes site.

Certain games, in particular, were singled out as a gateway into gambling addictions. Those which contain “loot boxes,” for instance, simulate the sensation of building pretend money, then betting it to win virtual weapons or prizes. Many attribute the sensation of these experiences as that of playing a slot machine.

Beyond that, the research shared on Forbes called out gambling risks associated with veterans and military personnel. According to the research, they may have a betting rate nearly twice as high as regular civilians.

National Association On Problem Gambling Executive Director Keith Whyte was interviewed for the piece and pointed out some of those alarming stats.

“Every study we are aware of has found an association between loot boxes and gambling problems,” Whyte explained. “Of concern are the possible negative effects of loot video games with loot boxes on veterans seeking treatment for a variety of behavioral health issues, especially those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

There is also a concern that loot boxes can be fed real money to increase the gamer’s “stash.” Many have called these practices “predatory” and emphasize that these actions alone may create a legitimate dependency.

It’s also worth calling out that these games are popularized with young teens and grade schoolers, meaning dark habits can form extremely early.

The Forbes article featured quotes from several actual gamers who developed severe gambling habits. One commenter, Andrew Liebmann, shared his firsthand experience.

“As a gamer let me tell you, loot boxes have gotten out of control in the last 3-5 years,” Liebmann told the site. “Gaming companies have time and time again expanded loot box systems, made them more predatory, and even done what they could to specifically target children with them.”

Whyte went on to share some of the work his organization is doing to educate the public. In the near future, the National Council on Problem Gambling will be coming out with a site that can help parents concerned about their children’s gaming habits. It is called and will include questionnaires and tests to determine whether someone in the household may have a problem.

Of course, if you already suspect something, do not hesitate to reach out to Valley Recovery Center for help.