Several studies have looked into the effects of Internet gambling on problem gamblers. These studies have focused on the behavioural and psychological factors that contribute to gambling problems. However, they have not looked at the ways in which Internet gambling may affect the gamblers’ overall involvement with the Internet. There is a need to investigate these factors to better understand the impact of Internet gambling on problem gamblers.
Studies have shown that Internet gamblers are at greater risk for developing gambling problems than non-problem gamblers. In fact, one third to one half of problem gamblers report having problems before they began internet gambling. Among the most common risk-taking behaviors among problem gamblers is gambling frequently. This may be due to the high impulsivity of gamblers. Internet gambling poses unique problems for gamblers, including the potential for continuous gambling and electronic payment. While these are common risks for gamblers, they do not always predict the development of gambling problems.
Research has suggested that problem gamblers prefer to play land-based games over Internet games. These studies have been based on a single dataset from a European gambling site. However, these studies may not be applicable to other online gamblers. Moreover, most studies have focused on cross-sectional data. While a single index may not be a useful predictor of gambling problems, a variety of indicators may be useful in the detection of risky players.
In addition to these general factors, other research has found that the format of the Internet is a factor in the development of problem gambling. LaPlante DA has published a series of papers based on an online database of real-life gamblers from a European gambling operator. He and his colleagues found that gamblers who are involved in Internet mode of play have a higher chance of developing gambling problems than non-problem gamblers. This relationship is largely due to the higher level of involvement in Internet modes. However, some Internet gamblers may already be problem gamblers and engage in risk-taking behaviors in spite of their involvement in Internet mode of play.
LaPlante and colleagues also studied the British Gambling Prevalence Study and found that gamblers who were involved in Internet mode of play had a higher likelihood of developing gambling problems. Similarly, the authors of this study found that Internet gamblers are more likely to have gambling problems when they are involved in both Internet mode of play and land-based mode of play.
Using self-report of gambling problems as a proxy for risk-taking behaviors, LaPlante and colleagues found that Internet gamblers who are involved in both Internet mode of play and live casino are more likely to develop gambling problems than Internet gamblers who are not involved in Internet mode of play. In addition to these general factors, there are differences in risk-taking behavior between Internet gamblers and non-problem gamblers. For example, Internet gamblers who are involved in both modes of play are less likely to drink alcohol than Internet gamblers who are involved only in Internet mode of play.