That’s a good summary of digital property considerations, and interesting. But when you buy a ticket to a ball game, the rewards are not variable. They are fixed. You get access to the game. There is no expressed or implied warranty of any particular win state. It’s simply access. When you buy, say, a lotto ticket, the rewards are variable; you are buying a chance, clearly expressed, at a variable tangible outcome.
I am on the fence as to whether loot boxes in games per se are inherently gambling in a moral or legal sense as we understand it. Certainly, the process of getting a loot box–or looting a boss, or finding stuff in a chest, or whatever–is based on variable rewards. You go on a raid, you don’t know if those wizard boots you want will drop, or another damn thief dagger. But there’s always something there, and one could argue that what you are getting as a reward is “something,” not “a specific something.”
It’s when you couple, directly, real-world, tangible costs (beyond time and effort, meaning, money) with the reward that you get weirdness. If you could pay $20 instead of going on the raid, and get the same random chance of loot, that would be really bad game design, but would it be gambling? If you were in effect paying for some loot, any loot, and you always got some loot, any loot, then it’s murky. But you can make the case that the only reason to go on the raid/pay for the loot was a specific thing you wanted/needed, and then the loot you do get becomes sort of binary, good/useless, with most of the results useless.
Really, though, for me it comes down to the idea that conceptually, yes, selling lootboxes/engrams/booster packs, whatever, does inculcate a habit of risk-taking based on paying for a chance at something useful through randomized results, that can arguably be linked to gambling behavior. Whether that rises to the level of legally actionable or morally questionable is to me a different and much more difficult question.