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Loot Boxes: Is it Gambling or not?

There’s been a lot of discussion about the loot boxes lately, even among ourselves here. The opinions on them are strong both for and against with opinions ranging from it’s an all out scam to it’s illegal gambling to it’s just a marketing gimmick and all points in between.

This post isn’t to argue every aspect of the boxes, but rather to determine whether the multiple “gambling” references made by many actually hold any water.

Let’s look at the add for a moment:

Now on it’s face, we can safely assume that you’re going to get three items. There is no such thing as an empty box. That, in and of itself, would seem to remove any marriage to gambling.

Gambling in it’s purest essence is an all or nothing proposition. When you play a game of blackjack, you either win and collect more money than you spent, or you lose and all of your money is gone. There is no in between.

Now, for ages they tried to argue that the “entertainment value” obtained by the wager removed the idea that it was gambling. They’ve tried that argument with video poker, horse racing, and many other forms of gambling.

All have failed.

Loot boxes though take the idea of gambling out a whole new door. To wit:

With these loot boxes in their simplest form, you get three items. The items listed that it could be range in value. So if we look at each item costing $2.00 ($5.99 / 3 = 1.996 rounds to 2) and we look at the price of the 250 gold, we see something interesting.

The minimum amount of gold you can buy is  off of the “any amount of gold” option in the store. The minimum amount you can buy is 500. 500 gold cost $2.97.

So, if you BUY the minimum amount, you’re paying .006 cents per gold piece.

If you WIN the 250 gold in a box, you’re actually paying .008 cents per gold piece.

So, in the end, you’re paying 33.3% MORE for the gold you win in the box than the gold you buy at the store.

Now, for some, that may not mean anything. But consider this: YOU ARE LOSING MONEY IF YOU WIN THE 250 GOLD. Reason being, what you are winning is worth LESS than what you wagered by buying the loot box to begin with.

That is the very essence of gambling: losing your money.

Now, it’s also likely you could win a Tier 8 premium tank. That, on average, is $51.00 and is a HUGE incentive to buy the “loot boxes” to begin with. One might say that it’s very similar to putting 500 to 1 odds on a horse race – the potential payoff is just so huge, that people simply can’t resist giving it a go.

To take it one step further, these boxes also offer in game consumables costing only a fraction of the gold rate which means you lose even more money than you spent for the loot box to begin with should you “win” them.

I’m sure that Wargaming’s thought on this legally was that “as long as you’re getting something for your money, it isn’t gambling”.

This is where they are patently wrong. If you stand ANY chance of LOSING MONEY, it is GAMBLING.

It is clear that these loot boxes in their simplest form almost guarantee you to lose money in some cases. That is the essence of gambling and how they make money doing it.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Thing 1

    I hadn’t really looked at it that way. I still think it’s more of a raffle because at least you get something for what you spent but you’re not promised the grand prize. But I see your point.

  2. Zeedox

    Hey, If the ponies can pay me less then my bet on a win and it’s gambling, then wg’s got a gambling machine…..

  3. Gomez_Adams

    And that is exactly how they are working it.

    On the individual loss, you’re not really looking at that big of an amount of money. In the case of the 250 gold, for instance, you’re talking about a loss of roughly 67 cents.

    But what if we consider that there are 25,000 active players on the NA server and that roughly half of them will buy one 3 box pack and that 1 of those boxes will be the 250 gold.

    Then you’re looking at Wargaming giving away 3,125,000 gold.

    Now, the maximum amount you can buy from the store is 25,000 and it cost $99.99.

    That means that you would have to shell out $12,498.75 to buy that amount of gold.

    BUT Wargaming is getting $25,000.00 for that same amount based on the 3 box bundle where each box cost $2.00.

    They are literally doubling their money at our expense. It goes a bit beyond gambling into the realm of full blown scam, but legally you would be very hard pressed to prove it. Gambling, however, is a shoe in. It’s TEXTBOOK gambling.

  4. Thing 1

    Son of a bitch!

    See? That’s why we keep your ass around – to do the fucking math.

  5. Gomez_Adams

    Awww. Thanks. I can feel the love. 😉

  6. Icon_Charlie

    It’s also the drug dealer concept of selling drugs. You first give them samples and/or in a very reduced cost and once they are hooked you draw them in with reduced quality of drug in question as well as driving the prices up.

    Same goes with loot boxes, regardless of which video game company it starts out for a few weeks with “AWESOME” loot prizes for a few people to get the buzz going on. AND THEN after they got these assholes hooked they reduce the quality in the loot boxes as a whole.

    You know that there are an incredibly large amount of shit heads who will buy into this as well as retarded teenagers which BY FACT have under develop brains for ration thought and concept that will get into this type of predatory gambling.

    You are also aware that there are laws in the books that protect underage teens/children when they do a crime because of their minds are not fully developed.

    Lastly it also shows you how bad WoT has to go down to this level to make money. But this IS a Russian company and I expected nothing less from them.

  7. Insurrectional_Leftist

    See here now? Watch this clip from MeatMilita, or Ghostprime, or Brian, or Whatever forum name he is secretly going under now on the forum?

    We, and the rest of the internet community are being corrected on our use (or rather they are distancing themselves away from the term loot boxes, and notice the nice dance around the word Gambling ..)

    Watch the clip, and observe the “Slick” Damage control measures Wargaming uses to cover their “Slimy Tracks” to cover their unethical, baiting, and gambling practices of money $ grabbing desperation, gouging, tactics.

  8. Thing 1

    Comments are not edible by anybody but me. It keeps down me having to check and recheck shit and anybody from re-editing something I edit.

  9. Icon_Charlie

    Reply. Alright so what do you think of them being part of the ESA?

  10. Thing 1

    Not much man. No different than a gun seller being a member of the NRA. They’re just in it to try to have laws passed that benefit them. Right now the ESA is on our side – the abolition of net neutrality by the fucking Drumph administration is the last thing on earth they ever wanted to see.

  11. Shadora

    I think loot boxes are gambling and the reason many countries want to regulate them is the same reason WG was giving out tier 8 premiums like a PEZ dispenser and then shutting off the faucet in another typical bait and switch company tactic.

    No one knew the odds of getting a tier 8 tank. You can’t make an educated purchase without knowing this. People were not buying loot boxes for gold. they were spinning the wheel hoping for a tier 8 premium.

  12. normtgnome

    Its against the gambling laws in Ohio, So WG needs to fix it since a lot of Ohio players are getting letters about gambling on line.

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