Problem Gambling and the Internet

online gambling

Internet gambling is a form of wagering that is conducted electronically using an online gaming site. It includes sports betting, casinos, and virtual poker. These online sites provide a fast and convenient way to place bets. This form of gambling is facilitated by technological advancements, such as wireless devices and high-speed internet connections. Despite the advantages of Internet gambling, it is not free from problems. In fact, it is likely to increase the proportion of gamblers with problems.

Problems with online gambling have been linked to alcohol, drugs, and smoking. Online gamblers report higher rates of alcohol consumption and gambling disability, compared to non-Internet gamblers. A study found that about half of problem gamblers attribute their problems to online gambling. However, not all high-involvement Internet gamblers are at risk for gambling problems.

Researchers have found that Internet problem gamblers tend to drink alcohol more, use marijuana more often, and engage in other risky behaviors. These factors suggest a causal relationship between problem gambling and the Internet. Several studies have attempted to identify whether online gambling is the root of these behaviors. They have discovered that Internet problem gamblers are more susceptible to alcohol and drug abuse, and more likely to self-harm. There is no conclusive evidence to show that these risk factors are caused by Internet gambling.

The first attempt to study this phenomenon involved an Internet-based lottery. In 2007, six percent of the British population used the Internet to place a bet. Purchasing lottery tickets over the Internet could help to boost participation in this activity. Another study examined the incidence of problem gambling among low involvement Internet gamblers. While some of these low-involved gamblers were screened negatively for gambling problems, many were not.

Another survey, this one based on the 2007 British Gambling Prevalence Study, found that a higher rate of problem gamblers attributed their problems to the Internet. Among problem Internet gamblers, a third to one-half of those with a problem had used land-based forms of gambling before the Internet. Some of these problem gamblers were already at risk for other problems.

A recent study by LaPlante and colleagues found that problem gambling was associated with a range of gambling formats. Internet gamblers largely blamed their problems on casino games, poker, and sports wagering. More than half of the problem gamblers were also involved in other forms of illegal gambling. Other gambling activities included maintaining slot machines, selling chances, and running lotteries.

Research also suggests that high-involvement gamblers are more at risk for problems. Internet problem gamblers are more likely to report having had problems before, and to have a higher rate of alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and other addictive behaviors. Those who have problems are more likely to self-harm, and have a lower rate of success with alcohol and other drugs.

Internet gambling is also known to be the fastest-growing form of gambling. While some jurisdictions have taken steps to regulate this form of gambling, there is still a lot of work to do. Ultimately, regulation can increase consumer protection and help generate taxation revenue.