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Online gambling does not increase problem gambling

For those who oppose online gambling, the number one reason is that they are worried about problem gambling. It is a valid concern and it is good to be concerned about the ills of society, but is it a realistic concern? As a knee-jerk reaction, many repeat the line that allowing online gambling increases problem gambling. It seems to be common sense. If you increase the availability of gambling, surely you will increase the number of people who have gambling addictions, right? Wrong, says Harvard University.

Recently two Harvard professors, Howard J. Shaffer and Ryan Martin published a paper called “Disordered Gambling: Etiology, Trajectory and Clinical Considerations.” In that paper, the professors shot down many of the beliefs people have about gambling and problem gambling. The researchers found that although gambling in the United States has experienced huge growth during the last 35 years, problem gambling has decreased from 0.7% of the population to 0.6%. The number of problem gamblers declined despite not only having more access to land casinos but also despite the advent of Internet gambling.

Research also found something that gambling advocates had suspected for some time: those who become addicted to gambling have pathological disorders that cause them to be more susceptible to addictions. The research found that 75% of those people who suffer from problem gambling have some other addiction outside of gambling, such as drugs or alcohol, and those other addictions were present before any gambling addiction. Of those with other addictions, 75% them are related to alcohol, 38% are related to drug abuse and 60% are dependent on smoking.

This seems to suggest that it is not the game that is the problem. Instead, it is people who are prone to addictions finding another source to feed their compulsion. Another interesting fact uncovered in the report is that online gamblers spend less money over time. Shaffer said that “people gambling on the Internet change from gambling more to less in weeks. We never would have predicted that. The extent of Internet gambling for most is astoundingly moderate.” With most gamblers behaving responsibly and most of them getting more frugal over time, the activity seems less dangerous than ever.

Tags: online gambling, problem gambling

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Categories: Casino, Gambling News
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