Online Gamling involves the use of computers to place wagers on a variety of casino games such as poker, blackjack and roulette. Some casinos also offer lottery tickets, keno and sports betting. The Internet has greatly expanded the reach of gambling in recent years and the industry is thriving. According to estimates by several research groups and industry experts, the global online gaming market is worth almost $43.6 billion. The largest revenue generator is Nevada which brings in over $3 billion per year, but Pennsylvania is rapidly catching up as it legalized all forms of gambling last year.
The growth of the online gambling industry is due to a number of factors. The ease of access and low cost of setting up a website makes it cheap to advertise on the Internet, while the increasing sophistication of the software has made it possible to create highly realistic games with high payouts. The ability to play on mobile phones has also made online gambling more convenient. Moreover, many people are familiar with the concept of online banking which makes it easy to deposit money into an account.
However, the expansion of online gambling has also raised concerns about the potential for abuse. Some experts argue that the development of online gambling may have increased gambling-related problems and that it is important to regulate the industry and protect vulnerable individuals. In addition to regulating the industry, it is also important to promote awareness about online gambling and its risks to those who may be susceptible to this type of activity.
Studies have found that one third to half of problem gamblers cite online gambling as the proximal cause of their problems, while others report that they had existing problems before starting to gamble online [13, 20]. However, most studies are cross-sectional which does not allow causality to be determined and self-report is prone to bias. Moreover, most researchers have used surveys which focus on a single gambling website and do not consider the different types of online gambling available.
A study conducted in 2005 by Adami et al. involved a sample of online gamblers from five Australian states. The majority of interviewees were male and over the age of 32, and they primarily gambled on sports, races or online casinos using a smartphone. Interviews were semi-structured and lasted between 45 and 60 minutes.
The findings showed that 80% of the participants had played online poker in the previous year, with Texas Hold’Em being the most popular game (65%). Sixty-six percent of these players placed bets on sports and horse races using their smartphones, and 32% reported gambling on online slot machines.
These findings suggest that early risk indicators are likely to be different in the different types of gambling sites and it is important that researchers identify and understand these markers so that interventions can be tailored accordingly. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes a category for non-substance behaviour addictions which could include disorders such as online gambling.