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The relationship between problem gambling, excessive gaming, psychological distress and spending on loot boxes in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the United States-A cross-national survey

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 12:00 authored by Drummond, A, James SauerJames Sauer, Ferguson, CJ, Hall, LC
Loot boxes are digital containers of randomised rewards available in many video games. Due to similarities between some loot boxes and traditional forms of gambling, concerns regarding the relationship between spending on loot boxes in video games and symptoms of problematic gambling have been expressed by policy makers and the general public. We present the first investigation of these concerns in large cross-sectional cross-national samples from three countries (Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the United States). A sample of 1,049 participants were recruited through Qualtrics’ Survey Targeting service from a broad cross-section of the population in Australia (n = 339), Aotearoa New Zealand (n = 323), and the United States (n = 387). Participants answered a survey assessing problem gambling, problem gaming symptomology, and how much they spent on loot boxes per month. On average, individuals with problem gambling issues spent approximately $13 USD per month more on loot boxes than those with no such symptoms. Loot box spending was also associated with both positive and negative moods, albeit with small effect sizes. Analyses showed both interactions and correlations between problematic gambling and problematic gaming symptoms, indicating both some commonality in the mechanisms underlying, and independent contributions made by, these proposed diagnostic criteria. These results provide context for dialogues regarding how best to reduce the impacts of loot box spending among those with problematic gambling symptoms.


Publication title

PloS one



Article number









School of Psychological Sciences


Public Library of Science

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 Drummond et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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