When the Casino update was first announced for GTA Online I predicted that it wouldn’t involve much gambling because of the questionable legality of being able to buy Shark Cards, then lose that money at the casino. It would seem that I was wrong, and neither Rockstar nor Take 2 Interactive, actually cared at all.
Unfortunately, plenty of gambling authorities around the world did care, and now lots of people cannot get access to the gambling-related content in the DLC. One Redditor, TommyWizard, has been working on compiling a list of every country whose residents cannot get access to the various gambling methods in the DLC.
You can visit the casino, but when you attempt to buy chips, you receive a message telling you that your account is not allowed to make that purchase. Upon contacting customer support, one Redditor was informed that this was because of his region. So, it would seem that Rockstar’s workaround has been to use chips as a buffer. No matter where you are from, you can buy Shark Cards, but you cannot automatically buy chips. This allows them to place a barrier around gambling in the game based on the legality of it in a player’s region, but not have a detrimental impact on their ability to make that microtransaction money.
Some people have discovered that a simple VPN workaround will get you past the problem, but you do potentially leave yourself open to issues if Rockstar ends up deciding that this leaves them open to possible legal trouble.
The video game industry currently finds itself under the gun for microtransactions, with some countries ruling that the practice of loot boxes constitutes gambling, so is therefore illegal. As such, it was smart of Rockstar to take this stance from the start with the gambling that was introduced in this DLC. It feels almost inevitable that the DLC will produce some tales of woe over time, as people will undoubtedly get access to credit cards they shouldn’t have and blow it all on Shark Cards which they then turn into chips.
While it is certainly not nice for people who would like to try out the gambling and can’t, it’s not hard to see why Rockstar took these steps to avoid any ire from gambling authorities.