Online gambling, or Internet gambling, involves placing bets over the internet. These bets are typically made on games such as poker, sports, and casino games. Some sites require the gambler to download software, while others offer instant-play gambling over a Web browser. In addition, some sites allow the player to interact with other players by allowing them to chat while they play. This interaction is often a major component of the appeal for many Internet gamblers.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Internet gambling can have serious consequences for individuals. In particular, it can have a negative impact on the user’s mental health and financial stability. Furthermore, the ease of access and use of the Internet increases the risk of addiction. The instant gratification and release of dopamine associated with winning can reinforce addictive behavior, and the anonymity of online gambling makes it easier for individuals to conceal their problems.
Some studies have shown that Internet gambling is more likely to occur among people who already have gambling-related problems. However, these studies have largely focused on self-reports of gambling problems, and have not investigated the relationship between Internet gambling and other forms of gambling.
A number of Internet-based gambling services have emerged that are designed to assist problem gamblers. These include websites that provide helplines, advice and support. Some of these also offer self-exclusion programmes. While these are a step in the right direction, more research is needed to identify which of these services are most effective at assisting gamblers.
Another concern is that Internet gambling is difficult to regulate. While laws governing land-based gambling are easy to enforce, there are no specific regulations governing Internet gambling. This can lead to fraud and money laundering. In one instance, a woman from California used her credit card to make wagers at an online casino, and the bank that issued her cards sued her for nonpayment. The court ruled in favor of the credit card company, but the woman claimed that she was unable to pay the debt because it was illegally charged to her credit cards.
Regulatory measures to control Internet gambling will require cooperation between researchers and operators. This includes providing access to data on gambling activities and implementing procedures for identifying potentially risky players. In addition, treatment and prevention strategies must be revised to reflect the unique features of Internet gambling. Brief, in-person interventions and online treatment programmes may be particularly useful for Internet gamblers. In addition, a standardized method of reporting gambling activity should be developed to facilitate monitoring and surveillance. Finally, efforts should be undertaken to enhance responsible gambling environments through the provision of tools and resources for moderation of play such as expenditure tracking and time outs. In addition, it is important that regulators require online operators to enact these responsible gambling policies and enforce them.