Online Gamling and Problem Gambling
Online Gamling is a form of gambling that occurs over the Internet, usually through computer or mobile devices. It can take the form of betting on sports events, playing video games or other entertainment-related activities. It can be done anywhere with an Internet connection, including at home. It is an area of concern for many people, given the potential for increased access to gambling, especially for young people and those who are vulnerable. In addition, gambling-related problems can disrupt family and work life and may cause debts that cannot be repaid.
The development of Internet technology has led to a rapid expansion of gambling. Online casinos, poker sites, lottery providers and esports are among the most popular forms of online gambling. This expansion has led to concerns that Internet gambling is contributing to the growing problem of gambling disorders. Research has shown that gambling disorder shares similarities with other addictions and can have devastating consequences for individuals, families, and society as a whole.
Internet gambling is not confined to the home, however, with one in five gamblers reporting that they have used their computers or phones to gamble outside of the house. This is particularly true for those who are younger, with esports gamblers being the most likely to have made an Internet wager outside of the home. This increase in off-site gaming has occurred as the lines between work and home life have blurred, with many gamblers working at home, and commuting to and from their jobs using electronic devices.
Gambling websites allow players to place large wagers, often with no need for cash or credit cards, and provide instant feedback. The ability to make continuous bets and the fast nature of Internet gambling have led some researchers to raise concerns that it could contribute to excessive gambling [1, 2]. However, Gainsbury et al. found that when other factors were controlled for, Internet gambling participation was not predictive of problem gambling.
Despite these differences, most studies investigating the relationship between Internet gambling and problems are cross-sectional, making causality difficult to determine, and self-report is subject to error. While some problem gamblers attribute their problems to Internet gambling, most report that they had existing problems before engaging in this mode of gambling.
Currently, early risk indicators for gambling problems have not been identified, largely because it is not possible to measure individual player behaviour. It is also not clear whether a single indicator exists, and detection of behavioural changes requires complex algorithms. However, the ability to identify and act on early risk indicators could reduce gambling-related harms, as would the ability to monitor individual player accounts and implement preventative measures. As such, it is crucial for further research into the use of early warning signs to be conducted, with a focus on different game types and features. This could lead to the identification of factors that are specific to certain forms of Internet gambling. This, in turn, could help to develop more effective prevention strategies and interventions.