Gambling over the Internet is a common practice and with the spread of smart phones, an individual can gamble in practically any setting.
New research looks to see if individuals who gamble online are more prone to risky behaviors than those who gamble offline.
Researchers from Concordia University compared people who gamble offline only to people who also gamble online in an effort to answer this question.
In the study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, Sylvia Kairouz, Ph.D., discovered that alcohol and marijuana (cannabis) use are associated with online users.
“There has been growing concern with the rise in online gambling and how this affects the health of our public,” said Kairouz.
“The number of gambling sites around the globe have grown from about 15 in 1995 to 2,358 in 2010 and global Internet gambling revenues increased from $3 billion to $24 billion between 2000 and 2010.”
In the study, researchers reviewed sociodemographic profiles, game-play patterns and level of addictive behaviors in adults who gamble online and offline. Source data came from the 2009 Quebec gambling survey which aimed to describe gambling problems, patterns and associated substance use behaviors in the Quebec population.
In the current study, a sampling of 8,456 offline-only gamblers and 111 offline/online gamblers was reviewed.
Investigators determined online gambling is low among the Quebec population, with only 1.3 per cent reporting having gambled online in the 12 months preceding the survey.
For the study, the gamblers were asked to report their gambling frequency over the past year and to give the number of times they gambled weekly, monthly or yearly. They were also asked to report how much money and time they spent gambling on a typical occasion. Alcohol and cannabis use over the year was also measured.
“Our results show that online gamblers reported being involved in more types of gambling and they spent more money and time playing than those gambling offline only,” said Kairouz.
“The proportion of frequent and problematic drinkers and cannabis users was also much higher among the Internet players.”
According to Kairouz, these findings suggest that online gambling emerges as one more risky behavior among other substance-related risky behaviors exhibited by this small group of individuals.
“We cannot determine, therefore, whether gambling on the Internet creates problems in and of itself, or whether those who already have addictive behaviors are more likely to be enticed to gamble on the Internet,” said Kairouz.
“We need to conduct more research looking at individual characteristics, environmental conditions, the object of the addiction (poker, for example) and so on to help us understand whether this group is more at risk for gambling-related problems.
“The hope would be to ultimately find ways to identify who the people at risk are, why they are at risk and then try to develop preventive measures to reduce the possibility of excessive online gambling.”