Are Mystery Boxes a New Form of Gambling?

When a person is first introduced to a mystery box, they may assume they are just playing an innocent game. However, like many games of chance, the link between mystery boxes and gambling may not be so obvious. While people can easily identify other gambling activities such as the lottery, poker, or sports betting in Meadowlands, NJ, mystery boxes do a good job at disguising themselves as fun that the whole family can enjoy.

To help New Jersey residents get a better understanding of how mystery boxes promote gambling, we’ve created this brief overview explaining the dangers of mystery box games.

What Are Mystery Boxes?

Mystery box games can take form in many different ways, but two of the most common types are digital loot boxes in video game apps and physical mystery boxes from e-commerce sites such as eBay. No matter what platform mystery boxes are being promoted on, they usually work the same way with users being required to spend in-game currency or real-world money to open up or receive a box with a valuable prize.

In most cases, the amount of money a user spends does not affect the prize they receive, meaning one user can spend $2 and receive a rare and valuable prize while another user can $100 and receive a prize that is common and less valuable than the user who only spent $2. Depending on who is offering the mystery boxes, users can win anything from gift cards and electronics to designer sneakers and vacations.

How Do They Promote Gambling?

As we mentioned previously, the link may not be as apparent as one might think. This gray area surrounding mystery boxes could be one of the many reasons why parents choose to let their young children participate in such games and why adults do not view them as a form of gambling. No matter what your views on mystery boxes are, the truth is they promote gambling because like gambling, players are:

  • Required to wager money or something of value
  • Bonded to uncertain outcomes
  • Have the primary intent of winning money or material goods

Recently, a few YouTube influencers faced heavy backlash for their promotion of mystery box games to their young impressionable viewers. In a number of videos, popular influencers showed themselves winning expensive prizes such as Kanye West’s famed Yeezy sneakers and Apple’s Airpods.2 While these prized seemed “cool” to win, many players discovered after spending substantial amounts of money that their chances of winning these coveted prizes were slim to none.

Need Help? Call CCGNJ

If you find that you are engaging in an unhealthy amount of mystery box games or sports gambling in Marlboro Township, NJ or the surrounding areas, and would like help finding treatment resources, contact 800-GAMBLER. We provide 100% free and confidential support to those struggling with disordered gambling. Don’t let gambling run your life — give us a call today!


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