Study finds a startling connection between video games and online betting

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Video games became integral to modern entertainment, captivating millions of players worldwide, including children. However, a recent study by academics from the University of York unveiled a surprising connection between video games and gambling.

Just like video games, gambling sites such as SlotsCalendar, for instance, provide an environment for immersive experiences.

The study’s findings reveal that many popular video games incorporate gambling-like mechanics, such as loot boxes, virtual currency, and other in-game purchases, which can foster gambling-like behaviours among players. This revelation has significant implications for the gaming industry, players, and policymakers alike.

As video games evolve and become more immersive, it is crucial to understand the potential risks associated with gambling-like elements in video games and address them accordingly.

In this article, we will delve into the University of York study’s findings and explore the connection between video games and gambling, shedding light on the implications of this startling revelation.

University of York Academic Study Findings

The University of York researchers conducted a comprehensive study involving a sample of thousands of gamers to investigate the relationship between video games and casino games.

The study revealed that many popular video games incorporate gambling-like mechanics, such as in-game purchases, which can foster gambling-like behaviours among players.

The study found that a significant percentage of gamers reported engaging in gambling-like activities in video games, such as spending real money to purchase virtual items or participating in games of chance within the games.

Experts suggest that video games can blur the line between online gaming and gambling, leading to potential risks of addictive behaviour, financial loss, and other negative consequences.

Significance of the Study

The significance of the study is multi-faceted and carries implications for various stakeholders, including the gaming industry, players, and policymakers.

Firstly, the study’s findings raise ethical concerns for the gaming industry. Many video games incorporate gambling-like mechanics, creating a thin line between gaming and gambling. This can potentially lead to the exploitation of vulnerable players, including children and adolescents, who may not fully comprehend the risks associated with gambling activities in video games.

As such, the gaming industry must consider the ethical implications of incorporating such mechanics and ensure that they do not expose players to potential harm.

Secondly, the impact on players is significant. The study highlights the need for players to know the potential risks associated with gambling-like activities. These mechanics can create a sense of reward and pleasure, similar to gambling, which can lead to addictive behaviours.

Players may:

  • Spend real money on virtual items.
  • Participate in games of chance.
  • Develop compulsive gaming habits that can have financial, social, and mental health consequences.

Therefore, players need to inform themselves and be cautious about their gaming habits to avoid falling into the trap of gambling-like behaviours.

Lastly, the study underscores the role of policymakers in regulating video game mechanics that resemble gambling.

The findings highlight the need for policymakers and regulatory bodies to consider the potential risks associated with gambling elements in video games and implement appropriate regulations to protect consumers, especially vulnerable populations. This may include age restrictions, disclosure requirements, and other measures to ensure that players are adequately informed and protected from potential harm.

Connection Between Video Games and Gambling

The connection between video games and gambling stands within the incorporation of gambling-like mechanics in many popular video games. These mechanics often include features such as:

  • loot boxes
  • virtual currency
  • Microtransactions

All these in-game purchases mimic gambling elements, creating a sense of excitement and anticipation for players.


Loot boxes are virtual containers that players can purchase or earn in-game, containing random virtual items, such as weapons, skins, or other virtual rewards.

The contents of these loot boxes are typically unknown to the player until they are opened, creating a sense of anticipation and excitement similar to the experience of opening a pack of trading cards or pulling the lever of a slot machine.

This element of randomness and unpredictability can trigger a player’s reward centre in the brain, releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation, which can foster addictive behaviours.

Virtual currency

Players can purchase virtual currency with real money, which they can use to acquire in-game items or services. Using virtual currency can dissociate real money and in-game purchases, blurring the lines between spending real money and virtual currency.

This can lead to impulsive spending behaviours, as players may not fully comprehend the value of the virtual currency in real-world terms and may engage in excessive spending to obtain desired in-game items.


In addition to loot boxes and virtual currency, other in-game purchases, such as microtransactions or micro-transaction-based games, can also resemble gambling. Microtransactions are small purchases made within the game, such as buying additional lives, power-ups, or other virtual goods.

These transactions can add up quickly and create a sense of compulsion to spend real money to progress or succeed in the game.

Micro-transaction-based games, where players are encouraged to make repeated purchases to enhance their gameplay, can also mimic the addictive nature of gambling. Players may feel pressured to spend money to gain an advantage or keep up with other players. 

Multiplier Games

The connection between video games and gambling is further amplified by the increasing prevalence of online multiplayer games, where players can compete with or against others in real time.

Gambling-like mechanics can be magnified in such games, as players may feel compelled to engage in these activities to gain a competitive edge or keep up with other players. This can lead to a cycle of repetitive and impulsive behaviours that resemble gambling as players seek to achieve virtual rewards or success in the game.

NOTE: It is important to note that not all video games incorporate gambling-like mechanics, and not all players who engage with these mechanics develop problematic behaviours. However, the presence of these mechanics in video games can create a potential risk for some players, particularly vulnerable populations, such as children, adolescents, and individuals with a history of problem gambling.

The immersive nature of video games, combined with the rewarding and stimulating elements, can increase the risk of developing addictive behaviours or other negative consequences.


In conclusion, the study provides valuable insight into the psychological process behind gambling addiction and how it appears to correlate with playing video games that promote betting.

Parents and game designers alike need to be aware of the potential risks, so they can take appropriate measures to protect vulnerable populations from developing problematic behaviours.

By understanding how these elements work on a cognitive level, we can create more responsible gaming experiences that prioritise player safety over profits.

Ultimately, awareness and education are key when it comes to preventing adverse outcomes related to video game gambling-like mechanics.