Among the many gambling platforms available today, the online gambling industry has seen a huge growth in the past couple of years. Millions of people gamble on various platforms throughout the world. However, a few of these gamblers are potentially vulnerable. In addition to the risk of financial loss, online gambling carries the risk of criminal activity and access by children. While a few countries have legalized the activity, many nations have still restricted it. Nevertheless, a growing number of jurisdictions recognize the value of regulation. Regulation may be beneficial because it can increase consumer protection and generate taxation revenue. But regulation also requires cooperation between regulators and operators. In addition, there is an ongoing need for research into the impact of Internet gambling.
The first step in establishing an effective self-exclusion programme is to determine the prevalence of risky behavior. There are no established indicators for gambling problems, but studies indicate that Internet gamblers are more likely to experience problems. However, these studies have not been able to explain the causation between the associations. Moreover, most studies are cross-sectional. This means that they don’t include a range of player accounts or a variety of other indicators of risk. However, longitudinal studies could clarify the mechanism of action.
One study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that about one in four college-aged males gambled for money at least once a month on the Internet. In 2010, the rate of Internet gambling increased by 16.0% among college-aged males. However, the rate of participation increased only slightly compared to the rate of participation in 2008, suggesting that the increase is not a statistically significant phenomenon.
The study also found that half of problem gamblers attributed their problems to Internet gambling. However, most problem gamblers also reported problems before they started to gamble online. This is not surprising given that a third to half of problem gamblers also report that they were previously involved in land-based forms of gambling. However, some Internet gamblers do not have problems at all. This suggests that other factors are contributing to the problem.
Internet gambling can be addictive, so regulators should consider the risk of its use by vulnerable individuals. Moreover, online gamblers may engage in risk-taking behaviours because of high impulsivity. There are also several Internet gamblers who may already have gambling problems and thus are at risk. Nevertheless, most studies have not included these gamblers in their analyses.
While most studies have only considered the role of the Internet as a gambling platform, other studies have considered the role of Internet gambling as a source of risk. A study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that nearly half of problem gamblers attributed their problem to Internet gambling. In addition, this study also found that about half of the problem gamblers surveyed reported that they did not know that online gambling was illegal in their country. Similarly, the study found that over 1.7 million male youth gambled for money at least once a week on the Internet.