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Abstract

Background and aims

Loot boxes are a common feature in video games where players win, buy or are gifted a virtual box or other container that is unwrapped to reveal virtual items of value, such as skins, weapons, in-game currency or special abilities. The current study aimed to relate the use of loot boxes to gambling problems and harm.

Methods

An online survey was conducted with 1,954 adolescents and young adults from NSW Australia, 59.9% female (aged 12–24), recruited by online panel aggregator, Qualtrics.

Results

Buying and selling loot boxes was associated with higher 12-month gambling frequency and gambling problems in young adults, aged 18–24 (Problem Gambling Severity Index). Young adults who bought loot boxes additionally had more gambling-related harms (Short Gambling Harms Screen). Young women, aged 18–24, who opened, bought and/or sold loot boxes spent more money in the last 12 months on gambling. In adolescents, aged 12–17, buying loot boxes was similarly associated with gambling problems (DSM-IV-MR-J). Furthermore, adolescent girls who bought and/or sold loot boxes viewed gambling more positively than other girls (Attitudes Towards Gambling Scale). There was no evidence, however, that longer-term experience in opening or purchasing loot boxes, a differentiating feature of the survey, is associated with current gambling problems.

Discussion and conclusions

This study suggests that loot boxes may be attractive to people who are already predisposed to engage in other gambling, and females who use loot boxes may have unique vulnerabilities to gambling problems that could be explored in future research.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Nicki A. Dowling, Christopher J. Greenwood, Stephanie S. Merkouris, George J. Youssef, Matthew Browne, Matthew Rockloff, and Paul Myers

Abstract

Background and aims

Problem gambling severity and gambling-related harm are closely coupled, but conceptually distinct, constructs. The primary aim was to compare low-risk gambling limits when gambling-related harm was defined using the negative consequence items of the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI-Harm) and the Short Gambling Harms Scale items (SGHS-Harm). A secondary aim was compare low-risk limits derived using a definition of harm in which at least two harms across different domains (e.g. financial and relationship) were endorsed with a definition of harm in which at least two harms from any domain were endorsed.

Methods

Data were collected from dual-frame computer-assisted telephone interviews of 5,000 respondents in the fourth Social and Economic Impact Study (SEIS) of Gambling in Tasmania. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyse were conducted to identify low-risk gambling limits.

Results

PGSI-Harm and SGHS-Harm definitions produced similar overall limits: 30–37 times per year; AUD$510–$544 per year; expenditure comprising no more than 10.2–10.3% of gross personal income; 400–454 minutes per year; and 2 types of gambling activities per year. Acceptable limits (AUC ≥0.70) were identified for horse/dog racing, keno, and sports/other betting using the PGSI definition; and electronic gaming machines, keno, and bingo using the SGHS definition. The requirement that gamblers endorse two or more harms across different domains had a relatively negligible effect.

Discussion and conclusions

Although replications using alternative measures of harm are required, previous PGSI-based limits appear to be robust thresholds that have considerable potential utility in the prevention of gambling-related harm.

Open access