Children becoming addicted to computer games such as Fortnite because they’re similar to gambling, research warns

They warn dozens of titles could act as a gateway to problem betting in casinos or bookies when kids are older.

Games such as Fifa 18, Assassin’s Creed Origins and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare allow youngsters to buy so-called loot boxes.

These contain various rewards that can improve a player’s chance of success, such as more powerful weapons and extra lives.

Some games, including those targeted at kids as young as 13, allow players to cash out winnings for real money. Experts say these encourage kids to take financial risks for chance rewards — the same behaviour seen in betting.

They called for a ban on loot boxes in games targeted at under-18s.

It comes a day after the World Health Organisation classified gaming addiction as a medical disorder. Dr Aaron Drummond, of New Zealand’s Massey University, analysed loot boxes in 22 games aimed at under-18s.

Ten met all five definitions of gambling — with six approved for children aged 13 or younger.

Dr Drummond said: “People exposed to gambling when young are most at risk of developing problematic gambling behaviours.”

Hit title Fortnite now has a loot box-free version after a backlash from gamers.

Ukie, trade body for the games industry, dismissed the findings.

Chief Dr Jo Twist said: “Loot boxes, and the purchasing of in-game items more generally, are covered by and fully compliant with existing relevant UK regulations. They do not constitute gambling in UK law.”

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