‘Real Life’ Loot Box Site is Actually Real Life Gambling, According to Critics
Posted on: August 15, 2018, 10:30h.
Last updated on: August 15, 2018, 10:34h.
The website DrakeMall.com has an interesting USP: it’s the only site that offers real-world loot boxes.
Inspired by the chance-based reward mechanisms found in video games, DrakeMall gives its users the chance to buy and open digital treasure chests that could ultimately contain any one of a number of products.
Pay $29.99 to open the “gamer case,” for example, and you could end up with an Xbox1X, worth $600, or a mousepad, worth $6.
The site has been online since September 2017, but its traffic has spiked over the last few months, according to the German-language digital marketing website OMR. Since March, DrakeMall claims to have attracted 400,000 users, largely by advertising through influential Youtubers. And here lies the controversy.
Is DrakeMall.com a Gambling Site?
Video game loot-boxes are controversial in themselves. Politicians across the world are increasingly questioning whether their addictive nature and element of chance means they should be classed as gambling.
But gambling is almost universally defined as risking something of value on the outcome of a contest of chance or future contingent to receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.
Other than items like skins that can be transferred to third-party websites, it’s difficult to argue that the in-game currencies “risked” in video games can be considered to be things of value, although some jurisdictions have ruled that they are.
DrakeMall Removes Any Doubt
Although the Estonian-based site claims to be an online retail outlet, by taking real cash from customers for the chance to win items of varying value as determined by a random number generator, it fits pretty snugly into the definition of gambling.
The site makes no mention of possessing a gambling license, despite online gambling licensing being available in Estonia. It claims its terms and conditions are “subject to the Laws of Estonia and to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the Estonia.”
According to the small print, DrakeMall is owned and operated by MBET SOLUTIONS N.V., which also owns bitcoin gambling site, BitCasino.io. The latter claims to be licensed in Curacao.
OMR is concerned that through its partnership with YouTubers, it is deliberately marketing to young people, some of whom may be below the minimum age for gambling. The site emphasizes that customers should be 18, but there is no age verification process for new sign-ups beyond possession of a bank card.
Worse still, OMR accuses DrakeMall of deceptive marketing practices. Many videos show YouTubers quickly winning high-value items, which increases the likelihood the spins have been manipulated, offering a skewed perspective on the chances of winning.
YouTuber Lennart Erbgut claims he was approached by DrakeMall to make a video in which he would be given 100 credits to buy loot-boxes and would eventually make a “big profit.”
He declined the offer. For others, though, the promise of guaranteed free stuff is too tempting to pass up.
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