The pandemic set off many changes in society, but one of the largest was an increase in the number of people of all ages who are playing video games— a pattern that is set to continue after 2022 and is an area of concern for responsible gambling advocates.
Like any form of gaming, online gaming is best done responsibly since many online games can lead to addictive behaviors and can even put players at risk for developing a problem with gambling. Some games feature items that mimic gambling, like loot boxes, which give players a chance to win random in-game items and prizes that players purchase using real money.
According to the digital marketing news outlet eMarketer, the number of digital gamers is set to steadily increase from 177.7 million in 2021 to 185.5 million in 2025. Even though the increase in the next few years is projected to be less significant than during the pandemic, millions more people will still be playing video games in the coming years.
Online gamers are also an increasingly diverse group of people, with people of all ages and backgrounds now playing games of all kinds. Many are adults, contrary to the common idea that gaming is a hobby only for youth. They play games to relieve their stress or hang out with their friends. But playing too much can lead to serious health problems, including a problem with gambling.
Players can now access online games in more places, increasing the risks. According to eMarketer, video game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation saw a large increase in monthly players since the pandemic, but 89% of all digital gamers play on cell phones. With phones offering the ability to play anywhere and at any time, there is the possibility to chase more of the highs and lows of the game, which is a common sign of problem gambling behavior.
To keep your online gaming enjoyable and responsible, follow these tips:
- Set limits on the amount of time you play and the amount of money you spend on in-game items like skins or loot boxes.
- Don’t play to escape. Keep online gaming a social and fun activity for everyone.
- Gauge your risk for gambling at Before You Bet.
Want to learn more about the risks of online gaming? Check out the Before You Bet online gaming toolkit for tips and educational resources.
If you think you or someone you know is at risk for online gaming addiction, resources are available from Game Quitters, an organization that helps people quit gaming. Find support groups, resources, and information at gamequitters.com.
Do you think you or a loved one could have a problem with gambling? Confidential and non-judgmental support is available 24/7 by calling the free Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or texting 4HOPE to 741741.