Online gambling refers to any type of wagering activity that is performed via a computer or any other electronic device. Examples of online gambling include casinos, virtual poker, sports betting and lotteries. Unlike offline gambling, internet gambling is usually automated, allowing gamblers to place bets quickly and easily.
In 2007, approximately 6 percent of the population of the United Kingdom used the Internet to place bets. The Liechtenstein International Lottery was the first venue for the general public to participate in online gambling.
There is an increased interest in the research on the impact of Internet gambling on the gambler’s life. Research suggests that problem gamblers are at a greater risk for alcohol and drug use, self-harm, suicide and other mental health problems. However, the research also reveals that a single index is not adequate to measure the prevalence of problem gambling.
While most of the studies in the field are cross-sectional, a few longitudinal studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between internet gambling and gambling problems. These have found that while there are no clear markers for problem gambling, Internet gamblers who are highly involved in internet activities are at a higher risk for addiction than non-problem gamblers.
Some of the most interesting findings in the study of problem Internet gamblers relate to alcohol and illicit drug use. More than half of the problem gamblers reported having a problem before the advent of Internet gambling.
Researchers have attributed the increased rates of problem gambling to the accessibility of Internet gambling. One reason is that Internet users can be located across the globe. Another reason is that gambling on the Internet offers a large number of betting options. This allows for rapid feedback and the ability to bet larger amounts.