Video game addiction turns into a growing concern for Australia

Video games, Slot machines, Online gambling

The convergence of video games and gambling has emerged as a significant concern in Australia, with experts warning about the potential risks posed to young individuals who are increasingly exposed to gambling-like features in gaming environments. A recent survey conducted among young adults in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) sheds light on the prevalence of online gambling habits among youths, highlighting the alarming trend of early exposure to gambling-related activities facilitated by video games.

Associate Professor Aino Suomi from the Australian National University (ANU) emphasizes that the widespread accessibility of online gambling platforms allows Australians, particularly youths, to engage in gambling activities virtually at any time. The study reveals that a majority of young individuals have encountered gambling features, such as skins or loot boxes, during their teenage years, often integrated into popular video games. These features, resembling elements of traditional slot machines, compel players to spend real money to unlock in-game rewards or progress further, thereby normalizing gambling behaviors from a young age.

Moreover, the seamless integration of social media within gaming communities exacerbates the influence of gambling-related activities, as players interact with friends while playing and may feel pressured to participate in gambling-like features to keep up with their peers. The use of parental credit cards to purchase in-game items further complicates the issue, allowing youths to engage in monetary transactions without fully comprehending the implications of their actions.

In-game items like skins, prized for their rarity and aesthetic appeal, have also become commodities for online gambling, with platforms allowing users to wager on the outcomes of esports matches using virtual items. This intertwining of gaming and gambling cultures blurs the lines between entertainment and risk, potentially normalizing gambling behaviors and desensitizing youths to its associated dangers.

While efforts to regulate traditional forms of gambling, such as sports betting, have been underway, addressing the prevalence of gambling within video games presents unique challenges. Despite recent regulatory measures aimed at curbing underage gambling, including bans on credit card use and enhanced identity verification, the inherent nature of video game gambling remains largely unregulated.

Proposals to ban online gambling advertising and manage the industry through a public health framework have been put forth by policymakers, yet implementation remains a complex task. Offshore gambling operators continue to circumvent Australian laws, targeting young consumers through social media channels and online platforms, perpetuating the normalization of gambling behaviors among vulnerable populations.

As Australia grapples with the evolving landscape of online gambling, addressing the intersection of video games and gambling emerges as a pressing priority. Efforts to raise awareness, enhance regulation, and promote responsible gaming practices are essential to safeguarding the well-being of young individuals and mitigating the risks associated with excessive gambling behaviors. Only through concerted action and collaboration between policymakers, gaming industry stakeholders, and public health experts can Australia effectively address the growing influence of video game gambling on its youth population.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here