Video game loot boxes are linked to problem gambling: Results of a large-scale survey

Abstract

Loot boxes are items in video games that can be paid for with real-world money and contain randomised contents. In recent years, loot boxes have become increasingly common. There is concern in the research community that similarities between loot boxes and gambling may lead to increases in problem gambling amongst gamers. A large-scale survey of gamers (n = 7,422) found evidence for a link (η2 = 0.054) between the amount that gamers spent on loot boxes and the severity of their problem gambling. This link was stronger than a link between problem gambling and buying other in-game items with real-world money (η2 = 0.004), suggesting that the gambling-like features of loot boxes are specifically responsible for the observed relationship between problem gambling and spending on loot boxes. It is unclear from this study whether buying loot boxes acts as a gateway to problem gambling, or whether spending large amounts of money on loot boxes appeals more to problem gamblers. However, in either case these results suggest that there may be good reason to regulate loot boxes in games.

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William Hill settles suit against FanDuel over betting guide

Bookmaker William Hill has settled its lawsuit alleging that rival FanDuel copied its “how to bet” guide virtually word for word, and will use part of the money to fund creative writing classes.

William Hill CEO Joe Asher won’t say how much his company is receiving from FanDuel, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

But he said some of the money will pay for the establishment of creative writing programs at New Jersey universities, as well as programs to treat problem gambling.

The settlement was made public Monday night, but was reached a week or two ago, Asher said.

William Hill filed a copyright infringement suit in October in federal court.

It produced its guide in June when it began offering sports betting at Monmouth Park Racetrack.

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MGM Resorts names Chris Kelley president of Northfield Park property

MGM Resorts named Chris Kelley, a veteran gaming executive, as president of its new property near Cleveland, CDC Gaming Reports reported.

The move is pending approval from Ohio gaming regulators.

MGM acquired the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield Park, Ohio, last year and is in the process of re-branding the racetrack casino.

Kelley joined MGM in 2017 as chief financial officer of its property in Detroit.

“The Rocksino already cemented itself as a market leader in gaming and entertainment and, with Chris at the helm, we are looking forward to building on that successful foundation and driving further growth,” Anton Nikodemus, a chief operating officer with MGM, said in a statement, per CDC.

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What Gambling Does to Your Brain

Gambling is more accessible than ever before, whether it’s scratch cards and the lotter or online casino games and sports betting and on sites like timeform you can do horse racing betting. For most people, it’s nothing more than a recreational activity that makes events more exciting, but there is a definite effect that gambling has on the brain that is akin to the effect of drugs or alcohol in terms of how easy it is to become addicted to gambling.

From brain imaging studies and neurochemical tests, scientists have been able to ascertain the impact that gambling has on each of us and how it affects our brain when we’re in the process of placing bets. There are similarities with the way that gambling impacts the brain compared to substance abuse, as well as the way the brain responds to cues and the way that gambling activates the brain’s reward system.

The Ventral Striatum

Gambling impacts two key parts of the brain that affect the emotions and feelings we have when we gamble. The ventral striatum is situated deep within the brain and is our reward centre. As gambling becomes more of an addiction, this area’s activity becomes diminished and less active during the anticipation of a win or monetary rewards. Scientists believe that this is because the reward pathways can seem counterintuitive to problem gamblers in that people prone to addiction have underactive reward systems in the brain so are constantly seeking more intense ways of stimulating these pathways.

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Loot box gambling and YouTubers team up to ruin 2019 as quickly as possible

The questionably-legal MysteryBrand doesn't see why the loot box experience should be restricted to virtual items.

A website called MysteryBrand, which seemingly launched late last year (though may have been around longer under a different name), is selling videogame-style lootboxes—there are even color-coded rarity levels—that promise users real products, ranging in value from fidget spinners to Lamborghini Centenarios. Welcome to 2019!

We noticed MysteryBrand after seeing a Motherboard report pointing out that YouTube muppet Jake Paul, among others, is promoting the site to his millions of subscribers. It works just like loot boxes do in games: Before virtually 'opening' a box, you can see the possible contents, and while the most expensive items such as cars, watches, vacations, laptops, and graphics cards are at the top, you'll most likely end up with a common item like a calculator watch or phone case. One $7 gaming-themed box is likely to reveal a keyboard keycap remover or cheap mouse, though it's possible you'll come away with an Alienware laptop.

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Sports betting will be no home run for state budgets

The race to legalize sports betting is on now that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed it in all 50 states, but will it provide enough extra tax revenue to make much of a difference for schools, roads or pension debt?

Don't bet on it.

Just look to the states that capitalized immediately after the court's ruling last spring and to Nevada, which previously had an effective monopoly on sports gambling. Even though the market is still developing, the returns to date have been modest.

In Nevada, revenue from sports betting has accounted for roughly one half of 1 percent of the entire state budget.

"Everything I've seen so far suggests that this would not be what one would consider to be a pot of gold," said Ohio state Sen. John Eklund, a Republican who introduced legislation to legalize sports betting in his state.

Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia legalized sports betting last year after the Supreme Court decision, as did the District of Columbia. Although New Mexico has not passed a sports betting law, the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel started taking bets in October through a tribal gambling compact.

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New Hollywood Gaming GM hopes story of humble beginnings will inspire others

Allie Evangelista began her life in the United States working as a hotel housekeeper.

Now, 19 years after first coming to the U.S. from her native Brazil, Evangelista is leading Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course. The facility at 655 N. Canfield-Niles Road has 1,100 slot machines, live horse racing, a staff of a few hundred, and brought in more than $115 million in slot-machine revenue last year, according to the Ohio Lottery Commission.

Evangelista took over as vice president/general manager of the racino last week. The move comes after Penn National Gaming – which operates Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley and several dozen other gaming facilities across the country – acquired Pinnacle Entertainment. Evangelista took over the job from former Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley GM Anthony “Tony” Frabbiele, who in turn took Evangelista’s former job as manager of the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Pennsylvania.

“The best way to bring two companies together is to make sure people are out of their comfort zone, that they’re learning about each other’s cultures,” Evangelista explained in a recent interview. “They’re calling this process a cross-pollination.”

Evangelista comes to the Valley with more than a dozen years of experience in the gaming industry.

She first came to the U.S. for a college internship at Walt Disney World, where she met her future husband. After completing college in Brazil, she moved to the U.S. to be with him. The couple lived in Orlando, Fla., for several years, where Evangelista worked as a housekeeper.

In 2006, she started her career in the gaming industry after accepting a job with Ameristar Casinos in Missouri. She worked there for nine years, learning the ins and outs of the gaming business and going back to school to get an MBA and a master’s degree in human- resource management.

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Ohio gambling revenue tops nearly $1.9 billion

About one-third of the gambling revenue is turned over to the state in taxes or fees.

Ohio's casinos and racinos recorded 1.86 billion in revenue last year, marking a record profit for the industry that launched in the state in 2012.

Gambling revenue — the amount of money kept by the facilities after paying out winnings — rose more than 7 percent at the state's seven racinos to just over $1 billion last year. Cleveland.com reports revenue increased more than 2 percent to $837 million at the state's four casinos.

The casinos have both table games and slots under the regulation of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The racinos, regulated by the Ohio Lottery Commission, are permitted to offer only slot machines. Sports gambling is currently not legal in Ohio.

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Ohio Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Sports Betting in 2019

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh launched sports betting less than a month ago, after the US Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting last year and essentially paved the way to legalize sports betting across the nation.

Pennsylvania and West Virginia are among eight states to do so already.

  • You soon may be able to place a bet your favorite team legally in the buckeye state

  • One Ohio Senator plans to introduce legislation to legalize sports betting in Ohio as soon as this month

Rivers Casino general manager GM Bill Keena say “Sportsbook” allows the 10-year-old facility to become a more comprehensive gaming experience.

“Betting has been great during the mid-week business, but weekends there are long lines here, customers love it. They love the ease of being able to bet. And I think people in general, just human nature, people just want to do the right thing, verses being able to bet legally vs betting illegally,” says Keena. 

Here in Ohio, democratic state senator Sean O'Brien has been hard at work for months, researching, and getting co-sponsors for a bill that would legalize sports betting across the state.

He says there's a definite buzz among constituents and bipartisan support among the Ohio House and Senate.

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For Farage and Brexit Pollster, a World of Gamblers and Gambling

The odds were long against the Leave campaign, but the men around Nigel Farage somehow came up winners.

Behind the luxury hotels lining London’s Park Lane, just across from a service entrance, Nigel Farage stood outside a squat office building streaked with soot. Britain’s famous anti-European Union campaigner was flanked by a couple of minor sports celebrities and two young women in matching dresses who held up a blue ribbon. Farage lifted a pair of scissors and paused with a smile, mouth agape, his face frozen for the cameras in a silent chortle.

It was Sept. 29, 2016, three months after the U.K.’s shock vote to exit the EU, and Farage was the guest of honor at the opening of a small bookmaking shop owned by a man who calls himself “the most exclusive private bookmaker in the world.” Ben Keith and his operation, Star Sports, specialize in high-end, high-profile clients. Keith, a diehard Farage supporter, was in the picture too, next to his idol.

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The fight against loot boxes and gambling in gaming

Regulators around the world began cracking down on a practice in the game industry known as “loot boxes” this past year.

Loot boxes are a mechanism where companies allow players to buy a randomised selection of in-game items for real-world currency. Crucially, the contents of the loot box is only revealed after the purchase is made.

Publishers of game franchises use the monetisation strategy across their best-selling titles, often resulting in consumer backlash.

This backlash was not only about loot boxes, however, and could be traced to unhappiness over the inclusion of “microtransactions” in games.

The essence of the complaints were that publishers were charging full price for their latest games, and then either forcing or strongly encouraging players to spend more money to get the full experience.

At launch the “standard” edition of games from high-end publishers usually retail for between R900 and R1,000, while a deluxe or collector’s edition is R1,500 or more. These prices may vary depending on whether the game is being bought for PC, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4.

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Records shed light on Henderson constable’s ‘gambling lifestyle’

Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell was under extreme financial pressure.

It was 2015, and Clark County officials had taken control of Mitchell’s office revenues. The elected lawman had a six-figure IRS debt and liked gambling, upscale restaurants and bars.

His solution, according to prosecutors, was to overstate the costs of his deputies’ salaries, expenses and income tax withholding amounts so he could keep the money for himself.

Three months after the county increased oversight of the constable’s account, Steven Kilgore, Mitchell’s chief deputy and friend of 30 years, warned him that ignoring the county’s financial controls would put him in the “crosshairs.” But Mitchell’s annual salary of $103,000 and a nearly $60,000 pension apparently were not enough to keep up with his expenses.

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Sports betting may seem easy. It’s not. Here’s why

Wanna bet on sports?

First, make sure you know what you’re doing — and the odds against you.

Seven U.S. states now offer legal sports gambling, and as many as 30 more will consider jumping on board in 2019. So here are some of the basics — as well as some more esoteric aspects — of betting on sports.

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PONY UP

The biggest difference between placing a legal sports bet with a casino or racetrack or their online affiliates and placing one with an illegal bookmaker or “bookie” is that with legal betting, you have to put your own money up first. Illegal bookies will let you bet on credit, the most appealing aspect of their illicit business and one that is expected to allow them to continue to operate, and perhaps still thrive, in the brave new world of sports betting.

Say you want to bet $25 on a football game legally. You have to hand the window clerk $25 and receive a ticket confirming your bet. In most cases, if you win, you will get back your original $25 stake plus your winnings, which won’t amount exactly to another $25 because of ...

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Sports betting will be no home run for state budgets

The race to legalize sports betting is on now that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed it in all 50 states, but will it provide enough extra tax revenue to make much of a difference for schools, roads or pension debt?

Don’t bet on it.

Just look to the states that capitalized immediately after the court’s ruling last spring and to Nevada, which previously had an effective monopoly on sports gambling. Even though the market is still developing, the returns to date have been modest.

In Nevada, revenue from sports betting has accounted for roughly one half of 1 percent of the entire state budget.

Read more here.

Barclays lets mobile banking users block gambling and drinking

Barclays has become the first high street bank to allow customers to block payments with certain types of retailers in an effort to give people struggling with addictions more control over their spending.

The feature will be available from Tuesday for customers using the bank’s mobile app and could help those dealing with gambling problems to cut off their spending in betting shops and on gambling websites. People can also block their own spending in pubs, bars, supermarkets and on premium-rate websites and phone lines.

A button within the Barclays mobile banking app enables customers to choose which types of retailers they are able to spend with. Attempted payments that fall within the “turned off” category will be declined automatically.

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Financial strategies for the loved ones of problem gamblers

Gambling addiction can have long-term effects on your family's finances.

Though visiting a casino, sports betting, and other sorts of gambling can be fun activities for some people, for others, these activities may trigger a lifetime of financial problems.

Due to the chemical release that occurs when someone is able to gamble successfully, gambling is an activity that is extremely likely to result in addiction. In fact, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), roughly 2 million Americans (0.6% of the population) qualify as problem gamblers.

The NCPG also claims that the average gambler may have personal debts up to $90,000. Gamblers often justify continuing their activity — despite knowing that, statistically, they are always likely to continue losing money — by claiming they are “one hand away” from turning things around.

Naturally, a lifetime addiction to gambling can have both emotional and financially strains on even the most stable families.

In this article, we will discuss the financial signs of a gambling addiction, how you can protect your family’s current finances, and how you can repair previous financial damages.

Read the full article here.

Missouri and Ohio are considering legalizing sports gambling, are OK with integrity fees

There are already eight states in the U.S. that have legalized sports gambling since this past May, with several more preparing to consider legislation after the new year kicks off. Adding to the growing list of jurisdictions that are amenable to the idea of allowing their residents to place bets on sporting events are Missouri and Ohio, both of which have said that they see no problem giving the sports leagues their request “integrity fee.”

Missouri already has a bill in the works, Senate Bill 44 (S.B. 44). It would allow sports wagers at floating casinos, as well as through online platforms, and would place a tax of 12% on the adjusted gross receipts of sportsbooks. In addition, there would be 2% “administrative fee” assessed on adjusted gross receipts, as well as an integrity fee of one-half a percent.

In addition, operators would also have to pay a $10,000 fee for each brick-and-mortar license, as well as each interactive license. An additional fee of $5,000 would have to be paid as a separate integrity fee to the Missouri Gaming Commission and the $10,000 fee would be assessed every time a license is renewed.

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Mike Buzzelli, Katrina Holt & Jose Flores- Ohio for Responsible Gambling Shares Tips to Help Those Battling Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a serious issue, but Ohio for Responsible Gambling is here to help.

If you or someone you love has an issue with gambling, help is available! Mike Buzzelli, Gambling Services Coordinator, Katrina Holt, Agency Clinician at Recovery Resources, and Jose Flores, Associate Director of Community Education and Prevention Services at LCADA Way, join Hollie to share Ohio for Responsible Gambling’s tips to help those battling a gambling addiction.

View video here.

Casino Employee Robbed at Gunpoint in Ohio Parking lot

Authorities are searching for a suspect police say robbed a southwest Ohio casino employee at gunpoint.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil says an aggravated robbery took place Monday at 2:14 a.m. EST in Belterra Park Casino parking lot, just east of Cincinnati. Police say a casino employee was getting into his vehicle when a male suspect brandishing a rifle demanded money. Police say he escaped with an undetermined amount of cash.

No one was injured.

Police are still investigating.

View the article here.