Online gambling is the activity of placing wagers on various games via the Internet. It differs from traditional casino gambling in that there is no interaction between players or dealer and the games are operated by computer programs rather than live dealers. While many people enjoy playing the most popular games like poker or blackjack, others have difficulty controlling their spending or have become addicted to gambling. Some may even steal money or other valuables in order to gamble. Gambling addiction can be dangerous and should always be treated seriously. If you are concerned about your gambling, you should visit a professional gambling helpline or counselling service. You can also take a free online assessment tool to determine how much you are spending and how often you gamble. The tool will also suggest possible next steps to help you get back on track.
A number of factors are linked to the emergence of gambling problems, including psychological comorbidities and irrational thinking. However, most of the current research has been based on land-based gambling and not on Internet modes. This is a critical gap that needs to be addressed, since Internet gamblers have unique characteristics and are likely to behave differently from land-based gamblers who experience problem behaviours.
The rapid rise in the popularity of Internet gambling is being attributed to the elimination of payment restrictions and the ease with which young people can access the games. As a result, more than 400,000 college-age male youths are now engaging in gambling for real money on the Internet on a weekly basis.
This has prompted concerns that the Internet may be contributing to excessive gambling and other forms of problematic gambling. It is therefore vital that responsible gambling policies evolve in order to address these new challenges, and the development of strategies to identify, detect and act on early risk indicators is an important step in this direction.
It is also important that treatment and prevention strategies are updated to be relevant for Internet gamblers. In particular, brief online interventions and in-depth online treatment programmes could be useful for Internet gamblers who are exhibiting early warning signs. It is also essential that online self-exclusion programmes are developed to allow individuals to exclude themselves from multiple gambling sites simultaneously.
In addition, the increasing corporatisation of the industry is being facilitated by the privatisation of gambling services, increased competition, mass media sponsorship of sports and races and digitalisation of betting products. This has created a complex ecosystem that is highly competitive and vulnerable to incentive-driven and promotional practices.
The study also highlighted that online gambling changes have undermined self-regulatory efforts and exacerbated harmful behaviours for online gamblers who are struggling to maintain or regain control over their betting activities. Moreover, these changes have unduly affected those who seek help and are at greatest risk of harm. The implications of these findings for regulatory and industry objectives to minimise gambling harm are discussed.