Online gambling involves wagering on sporting events, fantasy sports, online lottery tickets, keno and casino games such as poker, roulette and slots. It is a global industry, with some countries prohibiting it and others regulating it. It is also a popular form of leisure and entertainment. In addition, some people have been reported to develop addictions to Internet gambling. These individuals are referred to as ‘problem gamblers’. Problem gambling is characterized by excessive or pathological gambling, and can result in significant negative consequences. These include financial, emotional and social problems.
While a variety of factors influence gambling behaviour, the increasing popularity and accessibility of online gambling has led to concerns that it may increase problem gambling prevalence rates . This is especially true for Internet gambling platforms that offer features such as electronic payment, continuous availability leading to disrupted sleep and eating patterns, and an array of betting options. However, online gambling is still subject to the same ethical and regulatory concerns as other forms of gambling.
In the case of regulated Internet gambling, the regulation is often provided by a government agency, such as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Canada or the State Lottery and Gaming Control Board in the United States. These agencies are required to conduct regular audits of operators and ensure that they comply with the regulations in place. In some cases, the operators must also obtain a license from the government agency to operate their business. This allows the agency to monitor the operator’s operations and verify that the gaming sites are fair and honest.
Despite the growing concern about Internet gambling and the possibility of increased problem gambling, few studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between online gambling and problematic gambling. Many of the studies that have been done are cross-sectional and rely on self-report, which makes it difficult to establish causality. The findings of some of the studies do indicate that online gambling can lead to problems, with around half of problem gamblers specifically attributing their problems to Internet gambling.
In the future, more research will be needed to explore the relationship between Internet gambling and problems, particularly with respect to game-specific characteristics that may affect risk. It is also important to consider how Internet gambling habits may be integrated with other forms of gambling. It is also a priority to improve detection and treatment of Internet gambling-related problems. This will require cooperation between independent researchers to develop and test early risk indicators, gambling operators to provide access to data, and regulators to mandate responsible gambling policies. In addition, preventative measures such as self-exclusion programmes should be made available to Internet gamblers. However, this will require a collaborative effort between researchers, developers of gambling software, and operators to ensure that they are effective. Until this is achieved, the prevalence of Internet gambling will continue to rise globally. A number of jurisdictions have recently begun to regulate this activity.