The use of the Internet for gambling is a growing phenomenon. It is facilitated by high-speed internet connections, wireless devices, and a variety of betting options. Increasing numbers of jurisdictions are legalizing online gambling. However, little evidence has been gathered to date to link online gambling to gambling problems. This paper seeks to provide a review of research on the subject to date.
Gambling involves a variety of activities, including lotteries, casinos, pool-selling, and even selling chances. While not all individuals involved in these activities are at risk for a problem, it is likely that many people will have some involvement in at least one of these activities.
Most studies of the prevalence of gambling problems have focused on cross-sectional data. While this may help identify trends in the prevalence of problem gambling, it is not sufficient to determine whether gambling is a cause or a result. In fact, the self-reported rate of gambling problems is subject to bias, making a single index of gambling behavior insufficient to predict whether a gambler will develop a problem.
A 2006 study found that, overall, there is a lower level of problem gambling among non-Internet gamblers than there is among those who use the Internet for gambling. However, this does not mean that the presence of Internet gambling does not increase the probability of developing a gambling problem.
Studies have also shown that Internet problem gamblers consume more alcohol, use drugs, and are more likely to engage in other forms of self-harm. These findings have suggested that Internet problem gamblers may be susceptible to a causal relationship.