The advent of Internet gambling has revolutionized the way gamblers engage in wagering. It has enabled the speed and ease of placing a wager, while also providing a variety of betting products. Gambling activities include sports betting, casino games, virtual poker, and lottery tickets.
Online gambling allows individuals to bet from the comfort of their own home, whereas offline gambling often requires them to travel to an establishment. As a result, the number of problem gamblers is predicted to increase. In fact, one third to one half of problem gamblers have attributed their problems to Internet gambling. However, most studies on Internet gambling have tended to be cross-sectional in nature, which leaves little evidence to suggest a link between internet gambling and problem gambling.
A comprehensive review of the research on Internet gambling has been undertaken in order to identify trends and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the issue. This paper provides an overview of key findings in the field, with a focus on adult Internet gambling addiction. Moreover, it highlights the latest research findings that are of particular relevance for this population.
Internet gambling is a fast-growing form of gambling, and is largely automated. Nevertheless, high-speed Internet connections and the presence of an immersive interface may contribute to the emergence of disordered gambling. Moreover, many Internet gamblers report the use of alcohol, which has been linked to gambling problems.
A number of states have expressed concerns about the potential for Internet gambling to bring illegal activities into their jurisdictions. Several laws and regulations are currently in place to address this concern, including the Travel Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Act. Some of these laws and regulations are based on federal statutes that have been challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds.
One such case is United States v. K23 Group Financial Services. In this case, Internet poker operators are charged with violations of 18 U.S.C. 1955, which prohibits money laundering. Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission has threatened to discontinue leasing and maintaining facilities unless the operators comply with the law. Another important case involves the Sporting News, which agreed to pay a $4.2 million fine for violations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
The DSM-5, released in 2016, added a new category to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: “Internet Gaming Disorder.” These findings suggest that some Internet problem gamblers have a higher rate of drug use, alcohol use, and self-harm. Other research has suggested that gambling activity is a strong predictor of problem gambling, but not all low-involvement gamblers screen positively for gambling problems.
Despite these findings, the rate of problem gambling is still relatively low. Among non-Internet gamblers, 5.7 percent had a gambling problem, compared with 16.4 percent of internet gamblers. Nonetheless, internet gamblers with gambling problems are at greater risk than their peers. For instance, they have a higher rate of alcohol consumption, drink more, and suffer from more disability.