What Are the Causes of Online Gambling?

Online Gambling involves wagering money on the outcome of a game or event using a computer. It can be done through sports betting, horse and dog racing, casino games like poker, roulette and slots or Electronic Gaming Machines (poker machines). Unlike traditional gambling, where people place their bets in a brick and mortar establishment, online gambling takes place in a cyber world accessible 24 hours a day from any location with an internet connection.

It’s estimated that global revenue from online gambling topped US$15 billion in 2006 and continues to grow rapidly, driven by increasing internet penetration. This growth is fueled by the convenience of playing from home or on the go, ease of access to gambling sites and advertising that encourages play. Although gambling is illegal in many countries, some jurisdictions have legalized and regulated it. However, many of these regulated sites have yet to address the risk factors that may contribute to gambling disorders.

Psychological causes: Problematic gambling shares some of the same symptoms as other forms of addiction, including disrupted personal and professional relationships, feelings of guilt and shame, a preoccupation with gambling and an inability to stop. Additionally, online gambling can trigger the release of feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which explains why it is often so tempting. Games often feature cues that reinforce these pleasant emotions, such as celebratory music and lights for winning combinations on a slot machine, which may lead to a desire to continue playing.

Biological causes: Behavioral addiction is characterized by a loss of control in the context of a compulsive urge to engage in a specific activity, even in the face of negative consequences. The physical effects of online gambling can include a deterioration in immune function, sleep and nutritional deficits, increased use of alcohol or other drugs and decreased family and work involvement. It is also associated with depression and anxiety.

Social/environmental causes: Family, peer and environmental influences can catalyze a person’s development of gambling problems. The same is true for the online gambling environment, where social media and other factors that promote gambling can increase the likelihood of becoming addicted.

Financial causes: The financial costs of online gambling can be high, especially if a person uses multiple gambling websites or participates in multiple types of gambling activities. In addition, online gambling can also be difficult to control due to a lack of clear regulations. Regulatory bodies need to establish and enforce standards for online gambling, and develop a way to identify problem gamblers and provide support.

In terms of addressing financial issues, credit card issuers may decline transactions related to online gambling or limit how much a player can deposit. However, the exact language used by credit card issuers regarding illegal activities varies from one card issuer to another. Regardless of the terms set forth by the card issuer, the best solution for someone with an online gambling addiction is to seek treatment. This type of treatment typically consists of individual and group therapy.