The relationship between problem gambling, excessive gaming, psychological distress and spending on loot boxes in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the United States-A cross-national survey
Drummond, A and Sauer, JD and Ferguson, CJ and Hall, LC, The relationship between problem gambling, excessive gaming, psychological distress and spending on loot boxes in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the United States-A cross-national survey, PloS one, 15, (3) Article e0230378. ISSN 1932-6203 (2020) [Refereed Article]
Loot boxes are digital containers of randomised rewards available in many video games.
Due to similarities between some loot boxes and traditional forms of gambling, concerns
regarding the relationship between spending on loot boxes in video games and symptoms
of problematic gambling have been expressed by policy makers and the general public. We
present the first investigation of these concerns in large cross-sectional cross-national samples from three countries (Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the United States). A sample of 1,049 participants were recruited through Qualtrics’ Survey Targeting service from a
broad cross-section of the population in Australia (n = 339), Aotearoa New Zealand (n =
323), and the United States (n = 387). Participants answered a survey assessing problem
gambling, problem gaming symptomology, and how much they spent on loot boxes per
month. On average, individuals with problem gambling issues spent approximately $13
USD per month more on loot boxes than those with no such symptoms. Loot box spending
was also associated with both positive and negative moods, albeit with small effect sizes.
Analyses showed both interactions and correlations between problematic gambling and
problematic gaming symptoms, indicating both some commonality in the mechanisms
underlying, and independent contributions made by, these proposed diagnostic criteria.
These results provide context for dialogues regarding how best to reduce the impacts of loot
box spending among those with problematic gambling symptoms.