Playing black jack or roulette trying to win a fortune is actually not something modern. Most likely, shortly after the emergence of the first game gambling has appeared. The earliest six-sided dice date to about 3000 BC, coming from Mesopotamia. Since then, it remained essentially unchanged, in stark contrast to modern sophisticated video games with high system requirements. It may sound like the era of a rolling dice or card dealer is over in the face of immersive multiplayer online video games or augmented virtual reality. Besides, owning the latest model of Playstation is cooler than having a slot machine or a deck of playing cards.
Yet slot machines, once pejoratively called one-armed bandits, are still around, being accessible through the internet as well. There are even online casinos, such as CasinoSelect.ie, some with pretty card dealers. Comparing playing cards to a combat flight simulator or racing video game might well be apples and oranges, so is it just about money? To a certain degree. Just like casinos, the video game industry involves hefty sums that go partially to cover manufacturing costs of video game consoles or high-end gaming personal computers with all of their graphic cards, processors, etc. Add to that the manufacture of video games themselves. Not as simple as sitting behind a playing card deck or a rolling roulette in the anticipation of a big win. But there’s more to it. Loot boxes have become a common feature in video games, such as popular “Fortnite,” “Overwatch” or the “FIFA” series. The working principle of those loot boxes varies from game to game, but generally it’s like this: the player buys a loot box using either in-game currency or real money, and it churns out a random reward. Such rewards normally give players something superficial, for instance, a new clothing item for their game character, and don’t give them any actual edge over other players in the game. Research from the University of York in 2019 found that 71% of some top games contained loot boxes. In some instances, players can trade the rewards from loot boxes with each other for real money. In 2018 a report found that such microtransactions generated $30 billion in sales for gaming firms or apps. Even earlier, a 1996 study from the era of Sega and Nintendo suggested that high frequency video-game players gamble more than low frequency video-game players, report that gambling makes them feel more important, and take greater risks on the blackjack gambling task although no overall differences in success were found. Males exhibited greater risk-taking tendencies on the blackjack task than females. This made the boundary between video games and gambling even more fuzzy. Both playing activities start to transcend each other. The convergence of video gaming and gambling happened particularly in the social casino type games (e.g., DoubleDown Casino, online gambling simulated practice sites or demo games designed to allow individuals to gamble for fun using virtual currency). There are even some dedicated news sites, such as Gambling News or Gambling Insider.
Is this something to worry about? Well, the takeaway is this: If you want to gamble, do this only in a stable financial condition where the risk of losing doesn’t outweigh the prospect of winning.