Online gambling is the act of placing wagers via the internet on a variety of casino games and sports events. It has become increasingly popular as a means of circumventing the restrictions of land-based casinos and bookmakers. It also allows people to gamble from the comfort of their own homes or whilst on the move, using mobile devices such as laptops and tablets. In the past, it was easy to set up an online gambling website and begin accepting bets with minimal investment. However, the rapid expansion of online gambling has prompted regulators to implement new consumer protection tools including self-exclusion and deposit limit settings. These have been well-received by consumers but are only effective if they are used consistently.
While the majority of those interviewed in this study reported that they were satisfied with their level of gambling, some individuals appeared to be at risk of developing problem gambling. Moreover, these people often described how they experienced symptoms associated with gambling disorders such as disrupted relationships, financial hardship, and feelings of withdrawal. These findings are consistent with previous research that has shown that online gambling may have a negative impact on social and family functioning.
Among those who accessed online gambling in this study, the most common activities were casino and horse racing gambling. These were followed by online lottery and sports betting. In terms of the number of accounts held, on average, males hold more online gambling accounts than females. Similarly, younger people tend to have more accounts on average than older people.
Gambling disorder is often a hidden illness, with the symptoms difficult to recognise and understand. It can cause significant damage to a person’s relationships and personal finances, and can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. In addition, it can interfere with work and study, resulting in absenteeism. It can also affect the brain, causing a false sense of reward from winning or experiencing losses.
Online gambling is a popular pastime for many people, but can be harmful when it becomes a serious problem. Symptoms include gambling addiction, which leads to an uncontrollable urge to gamble, and can result in financial problems. It can also disrupt family and work life, leading to social isolation and feelings of withdrawal. In addition, gambling-related problems can lead to substance use issues, depression, anxiety and other psychosocial difficulties.
The current study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such it is likely to capture a high-risk sample of individuals with heightened levels of online gambling activity. Nevertheless, the results can be compared with those of a previous study that used the same recruitment strategy and was carried out during periods of lighter restrictions (Hakansson and Widinghoff, 2020). The findings indicate that industry changes aimed at making online gambling faster, easier, heavily incentivised, and available for a wider range of bet types with poorer odds, undermine self-regulatory efforts and unduly affect those struggling with problematic gambling behaviours. Consequently, these developments are a significant public health concern and require further investigation to understand their full impact.