Online Gambling has seen a massive increase in popularity over the last few years and UK users have a wide range of different sites to choose from. This type of gambling is not without its risks though and it is important to be aware of these. Gambling online carries a number of specific associated risks such as a lack of regulatory oversight, unreliable payouts and access by children or vulnerable people. Some of these risks can also be reduced by taking a few simple precautions such as choosing a user name that does not reveal your real identity, using strong passwords and only playing on regulated sites.
While most gambling is carried out at licensed land-based venues, the Internet offers gamblers a much greater variety of products and services than any other form of gambling. This has led to an increase in the prevalence of gambling problems in some societies (Yani-de-Soriano, Javed & Yousafzai, 2012). In addition, the constant availability of online gaming may lead to disrupted sleep and eating patterns.
The online gaming industry has grown rapidly in recent years and currently accounts for 9.5 billion U.S. dollars of the global gambling market. This growth has been fuelled by advances in technology, the increasing availability of broadband internet and increased social acceptance of the activity. While the majority of online gamers are adults, a significant minority are young people. This age group is particularly susceptible to the effects of online gambling and has become increasingly involved in a number of activities including casino games, bingo, poker and sports betting.
Although a small percentage of online gamblers develop problems, these are often severe and can have a significant impact on their daily functioning. Many research studies have shown that problem gamblers are more likely to engage in a wider variety of online activities and are therefore more at risk of developing gambling-related problems. However, few studies have looked at the types of games that are most likely to be problematic and it is unclear whether game-specific characteristics play a role in the onset of gambling problems.
Furthermore, research on Internet gambling is often cross-sectional and is based on self-report. Although this provides a useful indication of the relationship between online gambling and problem gambling, it is unlikely that this represents causality. Indeed, it has been found that over half of problem gamblers who have reported Internet gambling problems attribute their problems to this mode and not to land-based gambling.
Despite these concerns, there are a number of positive aspects to online gambling that should be emphasized. First, online gambling can provide a level of anonymity that makes it easier for problem gamblers to hide their activity from family and friends. Second, it can help individuals to learn about the risks of gambling and the consequences of excessive involvement. In addition, the Internet can provide an opportunity for responsible gambling education and treatment. Nevertheless, the online gambling industry must continue to invest in effective responsible gambling strategies and should promote a culture of responsibility.