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Loot Boxes

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What's The Worry?

In gaming, a user can purchase “loot boxes,” an opportunity to advance their game. Loot boxes are designed to be rewards that excite the human brain. This purchase can be helpful in the game, or can lead to a loss of money.

Since primary audiences for many video games are youth, the concern is that gambling-like features in video gaming could lead to problems in the future.


Why Worry About Youth?

Nationally, youth have more than twice the rate of problem gambling than adults. In Oregon, 40% of adolescents between the ages of 12-17 gambled in the last year. In Jefferson County, 27.4% of 8th and 11th grade students reported betting on video games, bowling, dares, etc.


Watch for Risks

Electronic forms of gambling are well known to be the most “addictive” and contribute to the greatest, fastest development of gambling problems. Most people who enter into treatment for gambling problems report some form of video gambling as their preferred way to gamble.

Youth with Gambling Problems may Experience:


  • A persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood.

  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism.

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex.

  • Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling "slowed down"

  • Increased risk of suicide

  • Higher anxiety, and

  • An increased risk of alcohol and substance abuse disorders.

In Jefferson County:


  • 34% of 11th-grade students gambled in the past 30 days (sports, video games, dares, etc).


  • 8% of 11th-grade students who gambled felt bad later.

Warning Signs

  • Asks for or borrows money; no money for lunch.

  • Unexplained absence from school; drop in grades.

  • Owns gambling materials, such as dice, playing cards, or other gambling materials.

  • Says gambling is one of the best ways to make easy money.

  • Neglects family, friends, or enjoyable activities.

  • Experiences frequent mood swings.

  • Spends more time checking scores or playing poker or other casino-style games.

  • Lies to parents or friends about losing money.

  • Displays large amounts of cash.

  • Shows intense interest in gambling conversations.

  • Uses gambling “lingo” in everyday conversation (flop, call, bookie, point spread, etc.).

  • Uses desperate measures to get gambling money.

As the pandemic keeps people indoors, children and youth are turning to video games at an alarming rate. Sometimes with grave consequences. 


(Note: This video talks about suicide and may bring up painful emotions).

Prevention—Talk About the Risks

  • Listen, and let youth know that they can ask questions about gaming and gambling.

  • If you choose to gamble, set a dollar and time limit and assure that gambling does not interfere with other worthwhile activities.

  • Establish and enforce rules regarding gambling behaviors.

  • Help youth develop positive coping skills. Gambling, for some, is a form of escape.

  • Avoid hosting gambling related parties or fundraising events. If you host an event, make sure information about problem gambling and where to get help is provided.

  • Keep in mind that the earlier a person begins to gamble, the greater the risk of developing a gambling problem later in life.

Problem Gambling - Risky Behaviors - Gra
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