Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline
Internet Gambling: A casino in every home and office?
Today, anyone with a personal computer and modem, interactive television or a cell phone has the capacity to gamble, virtually creating their own personal casino. Internet gambling is becoming an increasingly popular form of gambling, and there are now an estimated 1,700 gambling websites on the Internet and the number is expected to grow.
The convenience of gambling at home, the ease of setting up a gambling account and the variety of forms of gambling - from traditional betting, to casino gambling, bingo and lotteries - makes online gambling very appealing; that appeal leads to increased risk of problems with this new form of gambling.
Risks of internet gambling (See also the Youth section for Oregon Youth Internet Gambling Data)
- It is illegal
- Too easy to access: the ability to gamble 24 hours a day
- Too solitary: you can gamble in your own home undetected and unnoticed
- Increased risk that children will find and use these sites
- The absorbing nature of computers can lead people to lose track of time while gambling
- Gambling online enables an accelerated speed of play; for example, casino card games have an average rate of play of around thirty hands per hour, compared to online poker, which can average sixty to eighty hands per hour
- Persons presenting for gambling treatment who used the internet to gamble presented with more severe problems
- Decreased perception of the value of cash - i.e. players are forgetting that they are spending real money
- A gambling site on the other side of the world may or may not be legitimate; there may be very little to prevent the provider of online gambling services from taking one's money and shutting down, or failing to pay winnings
- Credit card or account details may be vulnerable to capture, and funds may be vulnerable to theft by computer hackers
- Internet gambling may be vulnerable to invasions of privacy. Information given to casino operators can be used for other purposes; for example, a service that uses telemarketing to convince people to bet on its football betting system may be willing to pay money for a list of Internet sports book players
- Online activity, which appears addictive in its own right for a minority of users, may interact synergistically with the propensity for problem gambling, and thereby increase the number of online problem gamblers
Young males at highest risk?
Data released in October 2006 by the Annenberg Public Policy Center show that more than one million young people currently are using Internet gambling sites on a monthly basis. Among males 18 to 22, Internet gambling doubled in the past year. The new data were released by the National Annenberg Risk Survey of Youth, which has tracked gambling among young people ages 14 to 22 since 2002. Based on the survey’s most recent estimates, approximately 850,000 males ages 18 to 22 gamble online at least once a month. The corresponding number for males between 14 and 17 is 357,000. Among the 18- to 22-year-old age group, weekly use of Internet gambling sites increased from 2.3% in 2005 to 5.8% this year, a statistically significant increase.
Full survey results may be found here.
Tips for safer internet gambling
- Only spend what you can afford to lose
- Keep track of the amount of time that you play—decide on a time limit and stick to it
- Keep track of your spending while playing
- Remember that the numbers on the screen are real money
- Avoid chasing your losses
- If you're a parent who gambles online, keep your password safe and consider using software to block access to gambling sites from minors
- Look for sites with options where you can set your own spend and session limits.
- If you are having a problem, request to be self-excluded from the site; there is also software that blocks access to all online gambling sites –see www.gamblock.com for more details
Youth and online gambling
The US Federal Trade Commission is concerned about youth gambling on the Internet and wants teens and parents to understand the risks associated; parents should tell their children that: You can lose your money. Online gambling operations are in business to make a profit. They take in more money than they pay out. You can ruin a good credit rating. Online gambling generally requires the use of a credit card. If kids rack up debt online, they could ruin their credit rating - or their parent's. Online gambling can be addictive. Because Internet gambling is a solitary activity, people can gamble uninterrupted and undetected for hours at a time. Gambling in social isolation and using credit to gamble may be risk factors for developing gambling problems. Gambling is illegal for kids. Every state prohibits gambling by minors. That's why gambling sites don't pay out to kids and go to great lengths to verify the identity of any winner. Parents should also actively monitor their children’s use of any internet sites, including those involving gambling. Although not a 100 percent guarantee of protection, there is software that blocks access to online gambling sites. See www.gamblock.com for more details.
Websites for more information on internet gambling
Managing Internet Gambling in the Workplace www.firstmonday.org
eGambling issue on Internet gambling: www.camh.net
GAO report on Internet gambling www.gao.gov
Internet gambling: legal issues www.gamblingandthelaw.com
Wikipedia overview of Internet and online gambling issues en.wikipedia.org
Newshour: legislation banning fund transfers for online gambling www.pbs.org
CBS 60 Minutes story on Internet gambling www.cbsnews.com
American Gaming Association factsheet on industry issues www.americangaming.org
Washington State Gambling Commission factsheet www.wsgc.wa.gov
Media Awareness article on Internet gambling and youth www.media-awareness.ca
FTC guidelines for parents regarding youth online gambling www.ftc.gov
APA advisory on Internet gambling www.psych.org
Annenberg Public Policy statement on online gambling and youth www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org