Video games are enjoyed by people of all ages, while gambling is supposed to be available to mature players. Both gambling and gaming have their fair share of controversies, but at the same time, they can help players develop useful skills. However, parents are pretty vocal about gambling content being advertised or normalized in the eyes of kids. Recent developments in the gaming industry brought about concerns, and many feel that certain games can lead to developing gambling habits. 

Axville Wcrqkjgmpfi Unsplash

To clarify, the goal of the article isn’t to criticize casinos or video games, as both of these are popular and accepted forms of entertainment. The goal is to see whether certain lines got blurred over the years. Content that is available on casino online websites is regulated differently from video games. So, those two need to remain separate. Here we will go over examples of how certain games are very similar to gambling and see whether there is a valid reason for concern. 

Tradable In-Game Items 

There are many RPG games where players are allowed to trade items or equipment. The idea is that this feature increases immersion, and it just feels great to sell a weapon or armor you cannot use to someone who can. You might earn in-game currency or you might trade it for another piece of equipment that you can use. Sometimes these items are crafted, but sometimes they are a random drop. 

Courier Dota 2
Tradable in-game items

When you add RNG to the game and have something have a very low probability of dropping, you are creating three possible scenarios. One, whenever the item drops it’s going to feel amazing and the player will be happy knowing not everyone has that weapon or armor. Two, you create an environment where players feel they need to tirelessly grind until they eventually get what they want. In other words, the game feels like a chore and you need to keep repeating the same process over and over in order to be competitive.

The third scenario is that you create a situation that resembles gambling. Players keep playing and investing their time into getting that item so that they can sell it for real money. If the items can be traded, then there is nothing stopping the player community from creating a website where they put those items on sale, and trade it in-game once someone buys them. Basically, you log in hoping that today will be your lucky day when you can earn money by a random chance. 

Some casinos took notice and even introduced new gambling experiences using these lessons from gaming. By relying on modern tech casino game developers create first-person shooters where killing foes can drop more valuable rewards. There are also casino VR games, and even old-school arcades like Pacman and Space invaders all adapted for gambling. 

Casino Video Games  

There are certain titles like Pure Hold’em and  The Four Kings Casino and Slots that are basically simulations of gambling. These titles do not require you to wager real money and they don’t allow you to make real money, but you can use real money to buy in-game currency. The same can be said for GTA V online or other AAA titles that feature casinos or gambling as mini-games. 

You might make the case that this is a perfect example of a video game that can be a gateway to gambling. However, these are all 18+ or rated mature, in other words, they are not aimed at kids or underaged citizens. In fact, these are likely to be a good choice for someone who is struggling with gambling problems as they allow them to play without any high stakes, and are more social experiences. 

Trading Card Games 

Here we have an example of somewhat blurred lines between gaming and gambling. TCGs are really popular in both real-life and digital versions, and there are tournaments where players can win rewards. Right now, it’s not allowed to have money as a reward as it would be regarded as gambling. After all, despite your strategy and deck building TCG matches also have a strong element of luck. 


Another issue is card value. Players upgrade their collection through, trading, buying cards, or buying booster packs. Some booster packs can feature incredibly meta-relevant cards that are more expensive and can be worth hundreds of dollars. Moreover, there are also cards with high collector value due to their scarcity and those can be worth thousands of dollars. So, when you take into account how booster packs work and that you are paying $10 for a product that can potentially contain hundreds of dollars in value, it’s easy to label it as gambling. 

However, there are some aspects that prevent it from being labeled as gambling. When you play slots, the potential number of jackpots you can hit is unlimited, it’s just that they are extremely rare. With cards there is a finite number of printings, so once all of them are pulled, there is no longer a way for buyers to get that one. The same cannot be said for digital versions of TCG. There is an infinite number of copies you can pull, but in these instances, trading is a game feature. 


Digital TCGs managed to dodge the bullet and they can still be marketed as content appropriate for kids. However, there are games like CS:GO, FIFA, and others that feature loot boxes where you can get valuable stuff and still trade it for money, through 3-rd party websites. This is causing a problem, and there was a legal debacle with Valve regarding skin trading or skin betting. You are likely to see different labels on CS:GO depending on the country you are in. Somewhere it’s regarded as feature gambling content whereas in certain geographies it has 16+ labels.  

Buying Loot Boxes
Buying a loot box or two from your video game store is also another form of gambling online.

These features are potentially dangerous especially if you spend a lot of money on loot boxes and don’t get what you want. In frustration, you are likely to spend more in order to try and recover the lost funds, which is very common for some gamblers.     

eSports and Streamers 

Ella Don Mkwi7lhcfcu Unsplash

These two aren’t exactly game features but are popular trends in the gaming community. Those who enjoy video games often enjoy watching streamers or eSports events. Streamers create diverse content and often advertise sponsors during their stream, so it’s not impossible for them to gamble online, or promote an online casino. There isn’t really anything developers or publishers can do about this, as it’s out of their hands. It’s up to the streaming platform to regulate their content creators, and for the most part, they do this. 

When it comes to eSports events, they are often hosted by big casinos. After all, casino businesses are looking for ways to attract young adults, and eSports are popular among that demographic. Knowing the eSports scene and closely following professional players and teams, can lead to increased confidence in guessing the outcome. This in terms can lead to placing bets, but if we go by that logic then any other type of sport can be a gateway to gambling.     


To sum up, using mechanics or reward systems that resemble gambling isn’t necessarily bad. It can lead to exciting and funny moments, especially on a live stream. There are tons of videos of streamers opening up loot boxes, trading, or farming for specific items. The problem is when these features are in content that is aimed and marketed to kids, and it’s good to draw attention to these features. They don’t need to be removed they just need to be adjusted in order to make the whole experience healthier and safer.  

>>> Visit for more updates and gaming reviews!