Online Gamling is a form of gambling that takes place on the Internet and has become increasingly popular. It is illegal in some countries and has been linked to organised crime and cybercrime, but is legal in many others. It can be accessed through a variety of devices, including computers, tablets and mobile phones. Despite its widespread popularity, it should be treated with caution, particularly as it can lead to addiction. Online gamblers should take steps to avoid problem behaviour by avoiding sites with high payouts, limiting their playtime, using a self-exclusion tool and using anti-virus software. They should also make sure that they are using a secure website by checking for a padlock symbol in the window frame and that the web address begins with ’https://’.
Unlike land-based casinos, the Internet allows users to gamble from any location with an Internet connection and use almost any currency. This flexibility has made it easier for people to gamble more often, as well as allowing them to spend more money. This can have serious consequences for their finances and their health, and has led to the rise of a new type of gambling known as ‘problematic’ or ’addictive’ online gambling.
Many of the same factors that predict problem gambling in general are present for online gamblers: a history of substance abuse, low socio-economic status, poor financial management skills and a tendency to take risks. However, a number of studies have drawn attention to the role of psychological predictors, particularly those related to states of mind and traumatic life events. This is consistent with the Rational Addiction Theory, which suggests that adversity and stress can increase the marginal utility of addictive behaviours to alleviate negative emotions (Choliz & Saiz-Ruiz, 2016; Escario & Wilkinson, 2018).
While the majority of Internet gambling is regulated in some way, a significant proportion of operators operate offshore. This means that they are not subject to the same level of regulation as traditional casinos, and may have difficulties obtaining a licence in some jurisdictions. This has been a key driver for the development of new regulations to prevent Internet gambling, and to promote responsible practices.
While evidence for the link between Internet gambling and problems is growing, most research is cross-sectional and therefore does not allow causal inference to be drawn, and self-report of problem gambling is prone to bias and inaccurate reporting. As a result, it is important that future research is conducted to better understand the relationships between online gambling and problem gambling. It is hoped that this will ultimately lead to the inclusion of an additional behavioural addiction in the DSM-5, alongside substance misuse disorders.