Non-UK casinos have become a popular destination for UK gamblers looking for an escape from the country’s regulated gambling industry. After increasing pressure from social groups and the government, the UK Gambling Commission has taken an active role in monitoring the betting industry, which has tightened the screws on UK gaming providers. However, one area that has escaped their scrutiny is the growing video game scene, which arguably offers the same gambling as the original casino scene.
Just as we have seen a boom in online casinos, we have also seen strong growth in the UK gaming industry. The payment model has also changed from a one-time purchase of a physical cartridge or DVD to a multi-purchase online model where users can purchase in-game items or secret boxes containing rewards. There is concern that these types of activities simply allow them to function as an unlicensed casino offering gambling.
In this article, we’ll explore the similarities between video game rewards and non-UK licensed and non-GamStop casinos.
What are loot boxes?
In-game purchases have become a standard feature of modern video games and this has increased the opportunities for players to spend their money throughout the gaming experience. Players can now purchase upgrades, such as costumes, bigger vehicles and weapons to use in their favorite games. Items can be purchased directly, but users can also purchase secret crates, which contain unknown rewards. Crates are generally cheaper than buying certain items directly, but there is an element of luck involved.
Video games such as Fortnite have grown in popularity with younger gamers, and Fortnite ‘skins’ are an example of such in-game upgrades. The problem with this type of payment model is that gamers are typically teenagers. , or younger, and there is an element of peer pressure to have the latest updates when playing online with friends.
Buying multiple rewards crates can be expensive, but they also have the same psychological urges as casinos, where those on a losing run might try to buy more crates in hopes of hitting the jackpot. These items are also priced not in dollars or pounds, but in virtual currencies like V Bucks, so there is no “peg” of real-world purchases.
How does Loot Box play look like playing in casinos and not on GamStop?
Buying Reward Boxes has a similar reward mechanism as used in non-GamStop casinos and the same psychological tools are used by programmers and game development companies to attract buyers. Buying chests with secret rewards is very similar to spinning a casino reel, as users hope to get lucky with a large item. Loot boxes may even have value in third-party marketplaces, such as the Steam community, where players will trade their loot. Again, this can amplify psychological desires to win.
A recent development in April 2021 was Belgium and the Netherlands who decided that these in-game loot boxes were too close to the game and are now illegal in both countries. The move by these two countries could put pressure on others to follow suit and ban or restrict the use of loot boxes.
Currencies for electronic gambling and in-game items
The world of electronic sports has been another gaming scene that has seen explosive growth and games have become a staple in online sports betting. Some sites, such as CSGO BetsYOLO, have allowed UK players to exploit a loophole in the GamStop rules by betting on events using tradable items rather than real currency.
Bettors always bet on the outcome of a match, but they do so with an in-game payment method, which is another way of betting on the outcome, without following UK rules.
Cryptocurrencies are another payment option that is becoming common for in-game purchases and the Decentraland blockchain project is setting up an online casino in their virtual role-player world, which has been sponsored by the development company. of Atari games. There is no gaming authority in the virtual world and neither is there any third party resolution or self-exclusion, so this is yet another area that escapes the sight of regulators.
UK gambling vs. non-GamStop casinos
Online casinos that are not on GamStop do offer the same opportunity as gaming sites with their in-game purchases. Players can bet on the outcome of esports or the chance to win big in a cash prize of loot, so these purchases are very similar to using cash to gamble.
According to non-gamstop-casinos.com, UK players have recently been more attracted to non-UK casinos as they offer a lighter regulatory environment than the UK scene. The GamStop Program is a non-profit organization that works with the UKGC and offers punters a lengthy self-exclusion program if they have shown signs of problem gambling. Along with these rules, UK bettors have seen restrictions on bet size and many rules in play, such as spin timers. These measures may help reduce the psychological effects for problem gamblers, but they also punish those who are more comfortable with their gambling habits.
Non-GamStop sites are simply casinos and sports betting sites that are not required to follow UKGC regulations as they are located overseas. Some may see them as a loophole to avoid GamStop rules, but the video game industry is a loosely regulated environment and the use of loot boxes really exploits the same psychologies in gamers. This was not the intended consequence when creating the in-game rewards, but players should be aware of the risks and avoid these games if they have experience with problem gambling and use GamStop.
Video games are considered a more harmless hobby than using sports betting or casinos, but there are growing similarities between the two environments. Loot box reward systems work with their own in-game currencies, and these can potentially cause problems for those who have encountered in-game issues. The UKGC has introduced the new rules to protect players and their assets. families against the fallout from gambling addiction and it is of concern that video game players are even younger.
Belgium and the Netherlands saw the problem and they decided to crack down on the loot box movement and it is likely that we will see other countries follow suit.
It could be argued that the video game industry now acts as an unregulated casino and users should be careful when playing these games. Players who have signed up for the GamStop service should be aware of the similarities of the two models and should not use it as another loophole to avoid exclusion rules.
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