The growth in popularity of online gambling websites has caused concern in some quarters. A new study indicates that people who gamble on the internet tend to have more severe gambling addictions than those who only frequent casinos. A potential reason for this finding is that the anonymous nature of internet betting allows a person to hide the true extent of their problem gambling.
Research released this week has found that Internet gamblers are more likely to have far more severe gambling problems than the average gambler. Rather than the study suggesting Internet gambling is more addictive, the concern proves to be more about the fact that it attracts gambling addicts who may wish to hide their behaviours. The study concludes that internet Gambling offers an element that many other forms of gambling do not offer – isolation and anonymity. Both of these aspects would prove attractive to individuals attempting to hide their gambling addiction.
Online Gambling continues to grow
The study lead by Psychologists Dr George Ladd and Dr Nancy Petry, of the University Of Connecticut Health Centre was focussed on the gambling habits and behaviours of 389 people. It was found that nearly 11% were problem gamblers and over 15% met the criteria for pathological gamblers. Although Internet gambling was the least common gambling activity of the study's participants, it found that the majority of those with internet gambling experience also had the most serious problems with addiction.
Online gambling continues to be a growth industry and the study strongly suggested there would subsequently be a vast rise in the amount of individuals suffering from the emotional difficulties associated with gambling addiction - this includes substance abuse, circulatory disease, depression and risky sexual behaviours. The study was also able to show a demographic as to who was being affected most of all. Results suggested Internet gamblers were more likely to be unmarried and younger. They also tended to have lower education and income levels. It is estimated that people under the age of 25 are up to three times more likely to become problem gamblers.
The young seen as at risk
The accessibility of the internet and the growth of such online games as poker, backgammon, bingo, and sports betting when linked to the findings around the average age of users in the research has certainly caused concern in organisations set up to help support individuals with gambling problems. In a report by the BBC, Mr Bellringer, the director of Gamcare, an organisation looking at the social impact of gambling said "Problem gamblers cease to be doing it for entertainment value or, despite what they might think, to win something. They simply want the gambling activity to last for as long as possible because it makes them feel powerful, they get a buzz from it or it helps them to escape."