Online Gambling is an activity in which players wager virtual money or items on the outcome of a game or event. Games that can be played include sports betting, casino games like poker and roulette, and lottery-type games such as keno or scratch off tickets. It is important to note that gambling sites require a lot of personal information from their users, such as credit card numbers and email addresses. It is therefore important to be vigilant and check that the site is secure before entering any financial details. For example, look for a padlock symbol in the browser window frame or make sure that the web address starts with ‘https’. In addition, players should always use a user name that does not reveal any personal information and only play for fun. It is also advisable to only gamble at reputable sites.
The online gambling industry has grown rapidly since its inception in the late 1990s. In 2012, it was estimated that worldwide gambling expenditures exceeded $350 billion. It is currently legal in most states of the United States, in some provinces of Canada, and in many countries of the European Union. In some jurisdictions, there are even regulated online casinos where the player can bet real money.
Some studies suggest that Internet gambling is a “gateway” to problem gambling. However, most studies examining this link are cross-sectional, limiting causality determination and relying on self-report data, which is prone to bias. Furthermore, these studies have often used only a single gambling website and may not represent the population at large.
Moreover, there is evidence that the emergence of Internet gambling has changed some of the basic assumptions in the theory of pathological gambling and disordered gambling. For example, whereas theoretical models have focused on land-based forms of gambling, the recent emergence of Internet modes has led to changes in how risk indicators are identified and acted upon.
This study employed a qualitative approach, including three focus groups with young adult Internet gamblers at two large Canadian universities. Participants in these focus groups revealed a range of motivations for beginning to gamble, with the most common motivation being the desire to win prizes. Peers and incentives were also important motivators. In addition, several participants reported transitioning from social casino gaming to real-money gambling within a relatively short time period. Thus, while research examining the relationship between Internet gambling and problem gambling is necessary, it should pay close attention to these new patterns of participation. These trends should be incorporated into existing theories of pathological gambling and further explored using longitudinal methods. Additionally, it is important to develop strategies for identifying and acting on early risk indicators of gambling problems in the context of online gambling. Ultimately, this may reduce the number of individuals who sustain harms from these activities.