Few video game franchises have excelled quite like Grand Theft Auto. Since its debut game hit the market in 1997, it has enjoyed nearly 300 million units in sales.
Integrating an online side of the game only heightened public interest in Grand Theft Auto. Now, GTA is taking it one step further.
Introducing Diamond Casino & Resort, open and live within Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer online mode of Grand Theft Auto V.
The online casino (well, the virtual brick-and-mortar casino in southern San Andreas) offers players a variety of games with chances at earning GTA currency and prizes. Players spend this virtual money within the casino, but they can also purchase in-game currency with real money.
That last feature creates a problem for many. In fact, it appears laws in more than 50 countries prevent players in those areas from visiting the casino, which was integrated via an update in late July.
What to play at Grand Theft Auto casino
Little imagination is needed to picture what the Diamond Casino & Resort looks like. Players face an array of standard casino games, including:
- Three-card poker
The slot machines feature themes drawn from the GTA world.
In addition, players can hit the Inside Track to place a wager or two on virtual horse racing.
On top of it all, the casino’s Lucky Wheel gives players an opportunity to spin for casino chips, in-game currency and other prizes.
Gambling laws prevent access to Grand Theft Auto casino
Certainly, Grand Theft Auto Online has played a significant role in the growth of Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar Games. Company chairman Straus Zelnick told Variety last year that Grand Theft Auto V and GTA Online “stands alone as a standard-bearer for our games and the industry.”
Yet, gambling — an ever-expanding industry that has grasped the attention of state lawmakers across the country — remains an issue when integrated with video games.
Soon after the Diamond Casino & Resort opened, for example, users began sharing their inabilities to enter the virtual property.
It turns out, regional laws restrict gambling of this kind. Thus, users cannot take part.
Obviously, countries such as the US, Western Europe and Japan have not banned such access. A Reddit thread, however, outlines some 50 countries (including China, North Korea, Argentina and Portugal) with gambling laws that prevent users from entering the GTA casino.
Should gambling within games played by minors be illegal?
The Grand Theft Auto casino takes in-game currency, not real money, that is earned during the game. However, users can spend real money to obtain virtual cash to spend at the casino.
This is where the conversation of loot boxes enters the picture.
Many video games incorporate “loot boxes,” items users can purchase and include any number of rewards that can be used in a respective game.
Lawmakers have gone on the attack to ban the sale of loot boxes, including Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who introduced legislation to crack down on such microtransactions. In a statement on his website, he said:
“Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids’ attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits. No matter this business model’s advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices.”
Hawley added that kids playing games “designed for adults … should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions.”
“When a game is designed for kids, game developers shouldn’t be allowed to monetize addiction. … Game developers who knowingly exploit children should face legal consequences.”