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One of the big areas of research in recent years has been toward the growing pandemic of online gambling, particularly amongst a younger audience, as gambling mechanics have started seeping into other game types. The biggest contributor here has been largely pinned to the loot box and packs system that is in many of the biggest games in the world. Encouraging microtransactions and additional payments for the low promise of unboxing or unpacking a rare item that can either be kept for bragging rights, or in some cases sold on to a larger market outside of the game. But there have now been links that some medication could also be attributed to a rise in gambling and addiction too.

The research isn’t particularly new and isn’t only linked to pushing gambling either but many other issues that stem from the same problem. Back in 2016 there had been links to certain anti-depressants and an increased risk of gambling, binge eating, and binge shopping amongst other issues. The link has been brought up once again amidst the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to see further links between different factors that could contribute to an increased risk of gambling including mental health.

The current links that have been pulled are mainly focussing on the big licensed online casinos and the growing numbers of players who have been visiting them during the coronavirus pandemic, and further research because of this. As early as a decade ago gambling had already been associated as a health problem and not a habit, and these links towards drugs like anti-depressants continue to support this. The reason more research has been committed during this period of time in particular has come with the increased risk of mental health issues, such as depression rising with the ongoing pandemic, with a large number of people stuck inside for long periods of time, with many jobs being lost. The uncertainty and stress that has come with not knowing what the future may hold for certain positions and jobs may lead to an uptake in consumption of some known substances that lead to an increased risk of gambling at the same time where many users would be at an increased risk even without the medication.

There have been efforts to stop this growth, certain initiatives have been launched to reduce participation options alongside other efforts to stop the growth with advertising bans and restrictions on deposits and pay-outs. Even these efforts may not be enough to stop the growth. Efforts taken particularly in the new year will be the most important, with the potential for a vaccine rollout on a wider scale within 2021, things may start to work their way back to a ‘new normal’. This will hopefully ensure the current growing gambling pandemic is brought to a safe end and for many may be the difference between a large number of problem players and slowing number that can be dealt with in a much easier way.



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