Many popular games played by youth have elements of gambling and while gaming, youth may be gambling without even noticing it.

Jumping Jamboree

A game that combines skill with chance, developed by the YMCA Youth Gambling Awareness Program (YGAP).

This fun and interactive educational game is not a gambling activity. It is designed to include gambling components to demonstrate how the lines between gambling and gaming can be blurred. In the game, participants will play as a panda, avoiding obstacles by jumping and ducking to try to make it to the end of each level. While playing, players will accumulate coins which can either be collected or wagered in an in-game slot machine or used to unlock a loot box.

Play the game and then move on to the sections below to learn about the differences between skill– and chance-based activities. Learn how loot box unlocking or a freemium game can become gambling, and how to stay safe if you choose to engage in gambling and gaming.

Is Loot Box Unlocking Gambling?

Loot boxes are virtual mystery boxes, found in video games and social media games. Loot box unlocking is a chance-based activity in which users pay a fee to participate without knowing what they may find inside the box. The player can use their real money or virtual currency to unlock the box which will then reveal the items. Items in these boxes usually offer no real advantage to the player, but there are games in which the items in loot boxes can provide the player with a certain competitive advantage.

Are Freemium Games Gambling?

The word freemium is a combination of the words free and premium. It describes a business model in which a product is given away for free, but it includes an option to pay to unlock new features or progress further (premium product). Freemium games are free to download and play, but at some point an option to pay to unlock a premium feature is presented to the player. Payment does not guarantee a win or progression in the game.

Gambling-Like Activities in Games

Gambling-like activities are games that either simulate traditional gambling games or are chance-based games that require in-game currency rather than real-world money to play. In-game gambling-like activities can include lotteries, slot machines, picking a card, poker, blackjack, etc., giving the player the ability to win extra items or coins. Sometimes these activities are built into the actual game and the player needs to play them to progress further into the game. Introducing gambling-like activities in games desensitizes the player and makes them believe it is harmless.

Blurred Lines Between Gaming & Gambling

When we talk about gaming and gambling, it’s important to talk about how the lines between these two activities can get blurred. This happens in many games, such as Jumping Jamboree, and can be explained through 3 concepts: the Gambler’s Fallacy, the Variable Ratio Reinforcement Schedule, and the Illusion of Control.

Is Jumping Jamboree a Gambling Activity?

Gambling is risking something of value on an uncertain event and not knowing if you are going to win or lose. This can be a roll of the dice, a turn of a playing card, the outcome of a sporting event or the content of a loot box. Gambling always involves a certain degree of chance, and when you risk your valuables you are not sure what happens and/or whether you win or lose.

Who We Are

The YMCA Youth Gambling Awareness Program (YGAP) is a free service, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health. It's designed to raise awareness among youth about gambling, and encourage healthy/active living and making informed decisions. YGAP provides a multi-faceted and innovative approach to problem-gambling prevention through outreach, education, and awareness-building activities like community involvement events and youth engagement projects.

YGAP’s work in the community includes a variety of tools and activities, fitting the needs of individuals and communities. These include: