'They're quite similar to pokies' - Kiwis join international bid to restrict gambling elements in video games

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1 NEWS

Paying in game credits or real money for a chance to win random rewards is the biggest trend in modern video games, and experts have serious concerns on the gambling habits it's instilling in children.

International experts say prizes for sale in online games risk instilling dangerous gambling habits in children.
Source: 1 NEWS

Of the top 10 bestselling video games in the past year, seven have featured virtual prizes, known as loot boxes, packs or crates.

Concerned Kiwis are joining an international bid to restrict gambling in online games, which experts here say could risk teaching children dangerous habits.

Simon Green is a concerned parent who says it's "the endless wanting more" which is causing issues for young people.

"It's tapping into the same sort of reflexes that adults might get if they're playing a slot machine or that sort of thing. If you're an adult, that's fine but it's not the kind of thing we want our kids to have," Mr Green says.

Andree Froude, the marketing and communications director for the Problem Gambling Foundation, says the prizes similarity to pokies is a cause for concern.

"You've got games such as Star Wars where young people will be attracted to those games, and you've got all the gambling imagery, loot boxes and things that are very, very close to gambling and it normalises it for young people," Ms Froude says.

New Zealand's Gambling Compliance Body is currently assessing whether the randomized prizes meet their definition of gambling, but says it's unlikely.

With gaming platforms owned by overseas companies, regulation would be just as difficult.

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