To the surprise of no-one, the ESA continues to claim loot boxes aren't gambling

To the surprise of no-one, the ESA continues to claim loot boxes aren't gambling

In news that will shock no-one, The Entertainment Software Association - a trade body funded by the big American publishers - has once again denied that loot boxes - a business model that makes lots of money for aforementioned big publishers - are gambling.

Speaking to, a spokesperson said that loot boxes do not constitute gambling as items received have no real-world value. Furthermore, the ESA claims that they are in fact a means for players to "enhance the experience that video games offer".

Kill me.

"Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer," they said.

"Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not."

In addition, the ESA spokesperson pointed to the changes in the way that warning information from American rating agency the ESRB in order to warn of loot boxes being present in a game. While a good step, research points to parents not paying attention to age rating information.

You'd have thought that addressing this issue, given that it leads to all sorts of negative press about children playing 18-rated games and so on, would be key to the ESA's strategy at the moment. Apparently, the US trade body would rather get stuck in the sand trying to reverse the tide on loot boxes and video game addiction

This statement follows the FTC in America announcing that it would be investigating the loot box business model. Australia's government, too, has been advised to look into this mechanic.

Belgium has already decided loot boxes constitute gambling, while The Netherlands has placed a restriction on item trading.

Over in the UK, our Gambling Commission has played down a perceived link reported by the media between loot boxes and exposure to gambling amongst children

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.