Gambling In Games Could Be Encouraging Teenagers To Gamble In Real Life

Gambling In Games Could Be Encouraging Teenagers To Gamble In Real Life

I’ve always had this theory: if we accept that video games can have a positive impact on children or teenagers — in education or ethics — we should probably also be prepared for the fact they could also have a negative impact. New research, by Dr Daniel King from University of Adelaide, states that video games that contain gambling could be working as a gateway to real gambling.

Of teenagers surveyed, 25% had gambled in a video game. 40% of that group expressed an interest in gambling in real life, with real money.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, King stated that one of the dangers of gambling in video games was that it misrepresented the chances of winning.

“I tried to lose money and it’s impossible,” he said. “That is one of the concerns about these types of games, they misrepresent the odds of gambling.”

It would be easy to dismiss this as the work of uninformed researchers but Dr Daniel King, as some of you may remember, was an early supporter of an R18+ and wrote this incredible takedown of anti-R18+ rhetoric for Kotaku Australia a few years back.

The research is yet to be published, but we’re looking forward to checking it out in its entirety and hopefully we’ll be able to catch up with Daniel King when it is released.

Gaming habits are learnt early [SMH]


  • Probably the biggest issue with gambling in video games is that money rarely has any value. It’s even easier to ignore the losses and only see the wins if the losses are completely insignificant.

    • I think in some games it’s sliiiightly different to what you’re saying. In some games, such as Pokemon which shithead above mentioned, since the gambling often has direct and tangible goals (e.g. a rare Pokemon like Dratini), it justifies any loss of money to obtain them, especially if it’s the only way to get such a rare Pokemon. It’s not that money has no value, but the goals you are aiming for has no defined monetary value. Which is obviously not the case here.

      • What about other games like Borderlands, Mass Effect and Red Dead Redemption that all have gambling games in them where the only reward is in-game currency and the currencies in those games are completely worthless? Those are the ones that I’m talking about.

        • Out of those, I’ve only played Mass Effect, and after one round (space blackjack, was it? I forgot what the game was called) I just ignored the gambling game altogether. I suppose it’s because the currency is, as you say, completely worthless. Most games usually just let the player accumulate enough money to be decked out through just playing the game. Also I suppose it’s just in my nature to dislike gambling, so I disregard it both in virtual settings and in real life. Seems like a useless time-sink.

          I guess now I have to wonder which games in particular Dr King is addressing in his study.

  • Is this talking about gambling as in ingame poker machines and the like, or gambling as a game mechanic like random drops from bosses? And where does things like TOR’s cartel packs come into it, where you pay real money for the random chance at items?

    • Based on what I read in the initial SMH/Fairfax article, I got the impression that it referred to in game poker machines at the very least, and more likely games dedicated to fake gambling.

  • I really hate it when researchers go to the mainstream media before they’ve published their work. King has some good publications, but how am I meant to evaluate these claims specifically if a peer-reviewed paper hasn’t been released yet. For all I know, its in the early stages of peer review and will get rejected due to basic methodological problems.


    • @dire_wolf

      My comment above pertains to exactly that – I have no idea how he’s defined ‘in-game gambling’ because he hasn’t published his research yet.

  • What about the teenagers that hadn’t gambled in a video game? How many of those kids had an interested in gambling with real money?

    There are not nearly enough data points here to form an accurate opinion.

    • I wondered the same thing. In our junior high school library, we’ve said no to having playing cards, as we used to discover kids having poker or blackjack tournaments in the corner. Some would play with real money, others would use food, others would just use Connect 4 chips.

      I think they still show poker tournaments on TV? Perhaps a blanket ban on media altogether? Let kids grow up the traditional way — with the belt and stories of back in my day!

      (but seriously, I don’t think video games are the complete picture here)

  • Being 19 now, before I was 18, I was playing the poker/slot machines on my iphone and kind of learned how they worked. I got pretty addicted to one of them for ages, but never spent real money to gain back the fake amounts.

    However, after going down to the pub to have a press, it’s amazing how much you just don’t win. I only bet about $20 or so, then get bored and prefer to play the one on my iphone.

    To me, it’s encouraging both addiction, and raising awareness as to how much you lose on the real ones. Plus I mean, at least I live in a generation where there is the ‘fake/virtual’ alternate.

  • He’s right. I was wearing an elegant suit and went to a casino. They found that I was cheating, so I shot all the people at the table and looted their corpses for the money.

  • So you don’t believe video games influence violent behaviour but they influence gambling behaviour? Where exactly do you stand on these issues, Mark?

  • for me personally, gambling a lot in video games, made me not want to gamble with real money. Because I always had to save and reload until I get lucky and win.

  • I didn’t need Fallout: New Vegas to teach me that “The House Always Wins”… i.e. gambling for money is a futile exercise because the gambling system is rigged to take money away from people at a substantial profit (like every other business out there). It was one of the reasons why I didn’t see the point in playing Pazaak on KOTOR, or having a go at Quasar in Mass Effect, or buying equipment from Duros the Blade in Torchlight.

    Perhaps video & computer games are the next logical step for betting corporations to expand to… or perhaps they’re going to replace betting as we know it?
    It bears thinking about how similar gambling can be to computer games – e,g, what’s the difference between spending $20 a month on:
    a popular MMORPG (ignoring the time sunk as well), or
    playing the Pokies (assuming the most probable outcome applies; i.e. you’re not going to win back what you paid – let alone the jackpot)?

    In the meantime, I just hope the conservative crazies don’t cherry pick the research and decry it as another way computer games are corrupting the “youf“. Gambling already has plenty of “gateways” in normal life (e.g. the office footy tipping comp, the Melbourne Cup holiday), and not to mention pubs, RSL clubs, and sporting events.

  • I don’t believe gaming can influence your life.

    It’s like saying myself playing games like Duke Nukem would turn me into a narcissistic arsehole…oh wait.

  • Kotaku may bullshit alot of their articles but i really think they hit the nail on the head, I could not agree more with this piece. Fallout new vegas caused myself to be ‘fond’ of roulette and as a result i lost large sum of money gambling,

  • I think those Timezone/arcade places where you pay money to earn tickets is a bigger influence on gambling. It is essentially gambling for children.

  • Whilst I’m not discrediting this research, I think there are much bigger problems than video games when it comes to gambling.

    The bigger issue is sports. It pisses me off greatly that I can’t watch a game of footy (any code, Foxtel or Free to air) without f**kin Tom Waterhouse or TAB or Whateverthef* (now on your mobile!) being shoved down my throat.

    It seems as long as the ad ends with “Always gamble responsibly”, all is forgiven.

    It really is atrocious how many betting ads there are per sports game these days. All the kids watching their favourite teams/players/sports heroes are subjected to this crap! That is a much bigger issue than possible gambling references in video games.

    /end rant

  • I remember playing an RPG, and in it there was a slot machine. And after about 10 minutes of watching me play my Father said “Your incredibly lucky, you get the Jackpot nearly every time.” to which I replied “Dad it’s a Video Game there is no luck involved here it’s timing if I press the button at the right time I always get a jackpot.”

    It went on to a discussion about how I could work this out for the Pokies in real life, I kept trying to point out there is no timing it is pure luck and the odds are actually determined by the Government. My Step Mom joined in at this point telling me that there is in fact a system so that you always win at pokies, despite every logical argument including the simple if there was a way to win all the time they would go out of buisness. She also claimed to never lose at the Pokies, my comment about the ATM always paying out did not go down well. You see she lost big, than went and took money out of the ATM to say she won.

    As somebody who has spent most of his life playing Video games on a nearly daily basis I don;t play the pokies, I find them boring beyond all belief I’d rather drop my money into an Arcade machine, while I know I won’t win more money I know what I will get out of it. Also being affected by a gambling addict has very much tainted my view on these things.

    What I learned from gambling in Video games is it’s usually rigged for you to win, take Borderlands 2. In a 4 player game it is almost impossible to lose money as the guns are upgraded to 4 player spec and generally worth more than the money you need to put in. Keeping in mind the main reason to use the Pokies in BL2 is to get Eridium and Skins, cash is irrelevant. Just go shoot some more guys.

  • Personally video game gambling, the side-quest kind, had put me off real life gambling forever. When the game deliberately use real life odds, very quickly a gamer would notice how impossible it is to beat the House. I learned from these experiences as a child that unless you have power over time and space and able to reload a saved game, don’t gamble with your money. As you WILL lose it.

  • Of teenagers surveyed, 25% had gambled in a video game. 40% of that group expressed an interest in gambling in real life, with real money.

    So of say 10 000 people, 2500 have gambled in a video game.
    Of that 2500, 1000 want to try gambling in real life.

    Okay….? Is this a problem?
    Media/’interested’ party uses statistics to draw conclusion that shouldn’t really be drawn from said statistics. Surprise Surprise.

    Of my core social group we all wanted to try gambling, after trying it only two of us felt any urge to continue, one of those people was me, and I’ve worked as a croupier so I know the odds aren’t 100% win chance better than most people.
    Phear the implications of my anecdotal tale!

    PS: As a former croupier, you know what’s FAR FAR worse for getting people to spend money they really shouldn’t than video games? Alcohol, as anyone in hospitality knows refusal of service is an ideal more than a rule (sadly).

  • I play an online slots game regularly, and under normal circumstances, you run out of “money” every time you play. The only way to keep playing is the regularly doled out “bonuses” from the game, which you have to log in regularly to get.

    If that game is teaching anything about gambling, it’s that you will lose everything you have, every time you play. No matter how big a win I’ve managed to get, it’s always gone if I keep playing.

    Interestingly, this game has two modes – normal slots, and a quest mode. I’ve never bothered with the normal slots, because there seems to be no point beyond winning fake “money” (which I know I’d lose again anyway). In the quest mode, every spin means you move forward, and there’s a chance of getting bonus items and completing tasks. The focus is taken completely away from the money and the gambling part. The only reason a big win is a good thing is that it progresses you further in the game, and gives you more opportunities to keep making progress.

  • Are kids these days too suggestive perhaps? I don’t recall wanting to gamble when I was 10 years old and playing James Bond on the Gameboy, nor did I wonder about crawling around on the floor in Pokemon trying to find dropped coins to try and win that damn Porygon.

    The only thing it DID teach me was cheating with an emulator. Create a save state, play the game. Lose? Reload and try again.

    Maybe kids have too much say in what they can and can’t do? (“Mum, I am TEN now. I’m not your little baby any more. Let me go to the party and smoke weed!”)

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