When playing video games with her brothers, 12-year-old Lilly Hamnett often turns to Loot Boxes.
"I like loot boxes because it gives me an advantage over my brothers," said Hamnet.
Loot boxes, also known as prize crates, are digital treasure chests within many popular video games designed to help a player get to the next level.
They typically cost, anywhere from about $1 to up to $40 or more for a bundle.
Lilly's mom allows it but only when her daughter uses her own allowance money.
"She's allowed to make decisions about how she spends her money, and so she sometimes chooses to buy Loot Boxes," said Hamnet.
The boxes appear in all kinds of games.
While players always get something, they do not know what until a box is opened. That is what bothers Chris Lee, a State Representative from Hawaii.
"A Loot Box is a mechanism similar to a slot machine. It could be something of value. It could be something virtually worthless," said Lee.
The World Health Organization is on the lookout too and says, "Loot Boxes may increase the intensity of gaming behaviors and, most probably, associated health risks."
Lee drafted legislation in his state to prohibit the sale of games containing loot boxes to those under 21.
"We expect this coming year there's going to be bills introduced at the state level to create transparency and ensure oversight so that people are protected," said Lee.
But the entertainment software association says loot boxes are a voluntary feature meant to enhance the in-game experience and insists they are not gambling.
The entertainment software rating board agrees to say that, while the digital goods within a box or pack are mostly randomized, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content.
As for Lilly, her mom says she is simply having fun trying to beat her brothers.
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