|A new study suggests that Internet gamblers could be more likely to have a serious gambling problem than other gamblers. The study found that although Internet gambling represented only 8% of the participants, a majority of Internet gamblers had the most serious problems with addiction. Only 22% of participants without any Internet gambling experience had problems, compared with 74% of those who gambled online.|
According to a report on bbc.co.uk, the research surveyed the gambling behaviours of 389 people. It was conducted by Dr. George Ladd and Dr. Nancy Petry of the University of Connecticut Health Centre, and the research warns that the health and emotional difficulties associated with compulsive gambling are more prevalent are likely to increase with the availability of online gambling.
Internet gamblers were likely to be unmarried and younger, with lower education and income levels. Writing in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, the researchers said: 'The availability of Internet gambling may draw individuals who seek out isolated and anonymous contexts for their gambling behaviours.
'Accessibility and use of internet gambling opportunities are likely to increase with the explosive growth of the Internet.'
Paul Bellringer, director of GamCare, an organisation dealing with the social impact of gambling, agreed that the Internet did pose a threat.
Bellringer told BBC News Online: 'It is relatively easily to get logged on to a hard gambling activity which is repeated time and time again and to get totally absorbed by it.'
Mr. Bellringer said that, in common with other forms of gambling, young people were potentially most at risk. It is estimated that people under the age of 25 are up to three times more likely to become problem gamblers.
Mr. Bellringer said: 'Problem gamblers cease to be doing it for entertainment value or, despite what they might think, to win something. 'They simply want the gambling activity to last for as long as possible because it makes them feel powerful, they get a buzz from it or it helps them to escape.'