Grand Theft Auto Controversially Adding an Online Casino

  • Grand Theft Auto V is the third most sold video game in history
  • The developer recently announced that a casino is coming to the online version in the near future
  • Video games that have gambling aspects have been a hot topic lately
  • A US senator has introduced a bill to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win transactions
Grand Theft Auto V logo
The Grand Theft Auto video game will soon have a casino to its online version.

Details of this new casino

Gambling content in video games is a hot topic of conversation. There are concerns that young people will be influenced by this type of content and it will make them vulnerable to gambling problems in the future.

The Grand Theft Auto series of games is one of the most successful franchises in the history of video gaming. The most recent iteration is Grand Theft Auto V, which was released in September 2013. Sales reached $1bn in the first three days. It is the third most sold video game in history, behind only Tetris and Minecraft, respectively.

The game has online and offline aspects, which the developers constantly update. A recent announcement that a new luxury casino will be coming to the online version in the future has caused controversy.

It appears that players will be able to actually own and operate the casino just they can do with car dealerships and nightclubs in the game and they will also be able to play at these casinos. Rockstar, the developer of Grand Theft Auto, also developed the successful Red Dead Redemption franchise. Players can participate in card games like poker in the multiplayer mode of Red Dead Redemption.

Regulators will be watching

There are already casinos in the offline version of Grand Theft Auto and fans have been calling for some time for this to come to the online version. Regulators will be keeping a close eye on this development.

While there will probably not be concerns about underage gambling because the game requires players to be 18 years old, there might be problems with gambling regulations in certain regions. This is because players can use real-life money to obtain in-game currency on Grand Theft Auto. While Rockstar will likely have considered this aspect when formatting the online casino, it will still likely attract the attention of politicians and regulators alike.

Loot box controversies

The gambling aspect of some video games has been a hot topic recently. Loot boxes have been a controversial part of several popular titles. These are packages that can be bought in-game and will give the player certain items when opened, from new weapons to weapon skins and emblems.

These items differ in their rarity. Therefore, when a player uses real money to buy a loot box, it is akin to gambling. Many of these games also allow players to sell in-game items for real money and many of the titles with loot boxes are available to underage people, which has caused issues.

Some countries have completely banned games from offering loot boxes to their citizens. They argue that it gives teenagers and children the ability to gamble.

Battling against loot boxes

Belgium concluded an investigation into four leading games in April 2018. They found three to be in violation of the national gambling laws: FIFA 18, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch. The authorities called on the developers of these games to eliminate the loot boxes from their games. Electronic Arts initially fought this ban.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson said: “We don’t believe that FIFA Ultimate Team or loot boxes are gambling, firstly because players always receive a specified number of items in each pack, and secondly we don’t provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money.”

EA eventually backed down and complied with the ban. There have been several similar incidents in Europe and the world as a whole. US Senator Josh Hawley recently announced a bill that would ban loot boxes and microtransactions that are pay-to-win.

Talking about the bill, he said: “When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction. And when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive micro-transactions. Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”