Online gambling is any kind of gambling that takes place over the internet. This can include online poker, casinos and sports betting. While many governments have banned online gambling, some states have legalized it. Online poker was the first form of online gambling to become popular. It was widely available in the United States until a series of legal battles over payments and other issues brought it to a halt. The US Department of Justice indicted three major online poker sites in April 2011, a day that became known as Black Friday and marked the beginning of a slow decline for the industry.
In the last decade, the number of people using the internet to gamble has increased dramatically. This trend has been fueled by the proliferation of internet-enabled devices such as laptops and mobile phones. The rapid growth of the industry has led to concerns about its effect on problem gambling. In order to address these concerns, it is important to understand the factors that influence the use of Internet gambling and how they relate to behavioural outcomes.
Research has shown that the frequency of online gambling is related to the frequency of occurrence of gambling problems. However, the degree of involvement with the gambling activity is also important. A recent study comparing self-reports of gambling problems with behavioural data found that the depth and breadth of involvement with Internet gambling is more predictive of gambling problems than just a single gambling index.
The emergence of the Internet gambling market has changed traditional patterns of gambling. It has introduced new opportunities for gambling, including the ability to make large wagers, participate in continuous gambling, and access a variety of betting options. These changes are threatening the sustainability of the industry and raising concerns about the potential for online gambling to contribute to gambling problems. In order to minimise gambling harm, it is important that regulation and responsible gambling tools are developed to support users. These should include a voluntary opt-out pre-commitment scheme for deposit limits, player activity statements, consistent safe gambling messages and an online self-exclusion register.
Research on Internet gambling must be undertaken to clarify whether there are unique factors that influence pathological behaviour and how these differ from those that apply to land-based gambling. It is also necessary to develop treatment and prevention strategies that take account of the distinctive features of Internet gambling. This will require cooperation between independent researchers to design and evaluate effective interventions, operators to enable the use of appropriate data and procedures, and regulators to require the use of responsible gambling policies.