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New research finds internet gambling doesn’t always lead to gambling problems


Sharlene King
22 May 2015
Despite fears that internet gambling may increase the likelihood of gambling problems, a new research review from Southern Cross University indicates there is little evidence to support this, although vulnerable gamblers remain most at risk.

The review of existing literature was conducted by Dr Sally Gainsbury from the University’s Centre for Gambling Education and Research to provide an overview of significant trends and developments in research relating to problematic internet gambling.

The results were published recently in the paper, ‘Online Gambling Addiction: the Relationship Between Internet Gambling and Disordered Gambling’.

“Although studies have found higher rates of gambling problems among internet gamblers, when controlling for overall gambling involvement and intensity, including gambling on land-based forms, participation in internet gambling is not related to gambling problems,” Dr Gainsbury said.

“These findings indicate that not all internet gamblers will experience problems. But it is important to note that the accessibility of internet gambling, combined with its capacity to spend considerable amounts of time and money, make it a risky activity for vulnerable gamblers. For people with gambling problems, internet gambling can worsen these and young males are particularly at risk.

“Government regulators and the gambling industry need to take considerable steps towards increasing the consumer protection measures offered online. Establishing universal self-exclusion across gambling sites, promoting self-limit setting and targeted pop-up messages for gamblers may reduce gambling harms.”

Dr Gainsbury will discuss the findings on Friday (May 22) at the Gold Coast, at ‘Addiction 2015’ the Australian and New Zealand addiction conference, as part of her presentation ‘Assessing the impact of interactive gambling and new technologies on gambling problems’.

"New technology is changing the nature of gambling. Many concerns have been expressed about the potential impact of increased use of interactive modes of gambling. This presentation will share the results of the first nationally representative data on the use of internet gambling in Australia (completed in 2014), including the impact of this technology on problem gambling,” said Dr Gainsbury.

The aim of that study, commissioned by Gambling Research Australia, was to understand who, what, when, why and how people are gambling using interactive technology. It included a nationally representative telephone survey (15,006 adults), an online survey of gamblers (4,594), interviews with interactive gamblers (50), gamblers seeking treatment (31), and a collection of data from gambling help services.

“Results from this multi-modal study demonstrate how research can inform important policy questions as well as practice including guiding treatment and prevention initiatives for internet gambling,” Dr Gainsbury said.
Photo: Dr Sally Gainsbury.