Online gambling is a fast growing industry that offers people the opportunity to gamble from any location in the world. Unlike traditional casinos, there is no limitation on time and players can play for hours. This has been a major contributing factor to its increasing popularity and growth. However, there are concerns about its impact on people’s psychological well-being and it can lead to gambling disorders. It is important to keep in mind that there are several things about online gambling that make it more addictive than offline gambling, including:
The development of the Internet has allowed for the intensification of online gambling and its growth in recent decades. This has occurred alongside the industrialisation of the gambling sector, a process that is characterised by multinational operators and a global ecosystem of products and services, mass-media supported sports events and races and digitalisation of betting products and advertising. This is a new environment that requires further study and regulation to ensure its safe development.
There is a need for research that explores the relationship between online gambling and psychopathology, with a focus on both behavioural and neurobiological aspects. The current literature is fragmented and there is limited evidence of the effect of online gambling on the development of gambling disorder. The literature should include a combination of methods, such as a systematic review, quantitative and qualitative analyses, and the use of multiple comparisons to identify key factors.
To date, the majority of the literature on risk and protective factors has focused on identifying personality traits that are associated with gambling problems. This research has been based mainly on surveys of people who play online and in person. A few studies have used experimental methods and a number of different comparisons to assess the association between personality and gambling. The comparisons have included a comparison between nonproblematic online and offline gamblers, and a comparison between online nonproblematic and problematic gamblers.
A few studies have investigated the influence of social and environmental factors on people’s propensity for online gambling, but these findings are inconsistent. There is a need for further research into the influence of family, peer and work environments on people’s propensity for online betting. This will help to inform the development of effective prevention interventions that are tailored to the characteristics of online gambling. These should be aimed at specific groups such as those with higher rates of impulsivity and lower levels of emotional control. In addition, they should address the underlying issues that contribute to the problem. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help people to identify faulty thinking patterns such as the feeling that they are ‘due for a win’ after a series of losses and develop tools to reframe those thoughts. Motivational interviewing is another approach that can be used to enhance a person’s motivation for change. It is important to recognise that the development of an online gambling habit can have serious consequences for mental and physical health, particularly when it is accompanied by a co-existing substance use problem.