Are lootboxes gambling?


A lootbox is like a present in a game. It contains a virtual good that is of some value within the game.

Players have to purchase a key from the game’s online store to open the lootbox and receive its contents.

This content can range from simple aesthetic changes to new characters or additional tools to use within the game such as weapons and armour.

The value of this content varies widely and is unknown to the player before opening the lootbox.

The lootbox mechanic is often compared to gambling as players who open loot boxes pay money for an uncertain outcome.

How to use video games safely in schools.

Get these resources to introduce video games in your practice:


  • Whole of School approach to being a ‘Safe Gaming School’
  • Game development in the classroom resources
  • All 16 worksheets/tools/factsheets to support teachers and wellbeing staff
  • The Parent’s Workbook for Dealing with Gaming Issues
  • All 14 tools/factsheets to give as resources to the families in your school.
  • All 14 information factsheets in the Info Pack 
  • A license to use all the above resources with all families in your school

Why are lootboxes compared to gambling?

You pay money for an uncertain outcome

To reveal the contents of the lootbox the player has to purchase a key from the game’s online store. The value of the virtual goods received varies widely and can be more or less than the cost of the key.


They use a variable reward schedule

The value of the virtual goods received are randomised. Sometimes you receive items are worth almost nothing, sometimes they are worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  This makes it different to kinder surprise chocolate eggs where the value of the received goods is always the same.


They use near misses to keep you playing

The animation showed when receiving the virtual goods make it look that you almost won the higher value goods. These visuals can be similar to the pokie machines rolling bars.

They use all the bells and whistles

The animation that accompanies the opening of the lootbox uses visuals and sounds that the player will associate with winning. This technique is proven to work and also used by gambling operators.

Get our gambling in games factsheets

Our factsheets are easy to use and are very informative

What can parents do to keep their kids safe from gambling with virtual goods in video games?

  • Discuss the risks of gaming with your child and encourage your child to reach out for help when needed.
  • Don’t give your children access to your passwords. Know which games are downloaded and played.
  • Have a play of the game yourself. You’ll quickly work out if the game offers lootboxes or not.
  • Monitor your credit cards and look for unaccounted expenses
  • Ask your child how they can best balance screen-time and real life activities. It empowers them to do the right thing.
  • Let game developers and government know that you expect games to be designed safely by going to

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