Technology has always played a role in the development of gambling practices and continues to provide new market opportunities. One of the fastest growing areas is that of Internet gambling (also known as online gambling). Examples include online lotteries, online casinos, online bookmakers, online betting exchanges, online poker sites, etc. The impact of such technologies should not be accepted uncritically, particularly as there may be areas of potential concern based on what is known about problem gambling offline. This chapter therefore has three aims. Firstly, it highlights salient factors in the rise of Internet gambling (i.e., accessibility, affordability, anonymity, convenience, escape immersion/dissociation, disinhibition, event frequency, asociability, and simulation). Secondly, it examines whether Internet gambling is ‘doubly addictive’ given research that suggests that the internet can be addictive itself. Finally, it overviews some of the main social concerns about the rise of Internet gambling before examining a few future trends in relation to remote gambling more generally.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Practice Mode: This is “free play” facility offered by numerous online gambling service providers that give players the opportunity to play for free and “practice” the game without spending any money. These are also known as “demonstration” (“demo”) or “free play” modes.
Online Gambling: See Internet gambling.
Gambling Addiction: Refers to an addiction to gambling whereby the individual’s life is taken over by gambling. Gambling becomes the single most important activity in that person’s life that they often do to the neglect of everything else in their life. They build up tolerance over time, use the activity as a mood modificating behavior, and suffer withdrawal symptoms if they are unable to gamble.
Circle Jerks and “Pop-Ups”: Circle jerks are telescoping windows. If someone online accesses a particular type of site and try to get out of it, another box offering a similar type of service will usually “pop up.” Many people find that they cannot get out of the never-ending loop of sites except by shutting down their computer. Obviously, those sites that use “circle jerks” hope that a person will be tempted to access a service they are offering while their site is on the screen. This is also related to the continual “pop ups” that appear while surfing the Internet, offering users free bets in online casinos and tempting those who may not have thought about online gambling before. Pop-ups such as these can also be a big temptation for a recovering problem gambler.
Remote Gambling: This is any form of gambling that is provided remotely by gaming operators. This is includes Internet gambling, interactive television gambling, and cell phone gambling.
Internet Gambling: This is any form of gambling that is done on the Internet and covers many different types. This includes gambling in online casinos (on simulated slot machines, roulette wheels, etc.), gambling in betting exchanges (where gamblers make private bets with other punters and are paired up by the service provider), gambling on lotteries (such as playing the national lotto game via the Internet, or use of an electronic scratchcard), and gambling at online poker sites (where punters play in real time against other real competitors). Also known as online gambling.
Embedding: A common practice referring to the “embedding” of certain words on an Internet gambling site’s Web page through the use of “meta-tags.” A meta-tag is a command hidden in the Web page to help search engines categorize sites (i.e., telling the search engine how they want the site indexed). Some Internet gambling sites appear to have used the word “compulsive gambling” embedded in their Webpage. In essence, what such unscrupulous sites are saying is “index my casino site in with the other compulsive gambling sites” so people will “hit” this site when they are looking for other information related to compulsive gambling. People looking for help with a gambling problem will get these sites popping up in front of them. This is a particularly unscrupulous practice that at the moment is perfectly legal.
Internet Gambling Addiction: An online gambling addiction (see gambling addiction). Here gamblers use the convenient medium of the Internet to facilitate their gambling addiction. These people are not Internet addicts as they are not addicted to the Internet. It is the gambling that they are addicted to.