Popular YouTubers, like Jake Paul and Bryan “Ricegum” Le, have come under fire for promoting gambling via the website Mystery Brand to their young audiences, The Daily Beast reported. The video sparking the controversy shows Paul and Le betting hundreds of dollars on Mystery Brand to win a variety of commonplace to luxury prizes.
This mystery fad is not unique to Paul and Le. Mystery boxes from sites like Amazon and Ebay became a trend in 2018 as YouTubers of all sizes have spent upwards of thousands of dollars on the boxes to show their audiences. This quickly became a way for people to make a quick buck by selling creators mystery boxes filled with nearly worthless goods for hundreds of dollars.
Quickly looking through mystery box ‘unboxings’ on YouTube, it becomes clear that it’s incredibly rare for the boxes to meet their alleged value.
Someone commoditized the YouTube mystery box trend and built a website for kids to spend $, which big YouTubers are now promoting. Lots of ppl calling it gambling for kids and chastising Jake Paul for endorsing https://t.co/evYjY03jPChttps://t.co/hfwRXXY1ei
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) January 3, 2019
Mystery Brand is just the latest twist on the trend with digital version of boxes to open.
According to their website, consumers can buy a box for a flat rate for a chance at receiving “expensive and interesting products at very low prices.” It’s been called a gambling website because these virtual boxes are a game of chance that often promise riches but leave most consumers in the hole.
An example used by The Daily Beast was a mystery box advertising the chance to win “Most Expensive Los Angeles Realty.” The website marked the value of the home at $250 million, when a real estate website actually listed it for $188 million and allegedly Mystery Brand had no proof of ownership of the home.
— Riku (@RikuNihon) January 3, 2019
The Daily Beast noted also noted the shadiness of the website’s terms of service. Underage buyers on the site, including the large percentage of underage viewers on Paul and Le’s YouTube channels, cannot receive any prizes or refunds from Mystery Brand. The terms of service further stipulate that, even if the buyer is of age, “During using the services of the website You may encounter circumstances in which Your won items will not be received.”
Other YouTubers have chimed in with their own experiences with Mystery Brand. YouTuber Keemstar said that he was offered $100,000 to promote Mystery Brand on his channel, but he turned it down and is now worried that the website a scam, according to ET Canada.