Harvard University recently released a new study on problem gambling. Championing the report was Howard J. Shaffer and Ryan Martin, two well-known experts on the subject. The study is entitled, “Disordered Gambling: Etiology, Trajectory and Clinical Considerations” and was featured in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. The conclusions indicated that problem gambling has dropped and that online gambling does not breed problem gambling.

Gambling-related research has advanced rapidly during the past 20 years. As a result of expanding interest in pathological gambling (PG), stakeholders (e.g., clinicians, regulators, and policy makers) have a better understanding of excessive gambling, including its etiology (e.g., neurobiological/neurogenetic, psychological, and sociological factors) and trajectory (e.g., initiation, course, and adaptation to gambling exposure).

There has been a tremendous growth in land-based gambling over the past 35 years. However, problem gambling has decreased from 0.7% to 0.6%. Therefore, this proves that for the majority of Americans, this is an enjoyable but controllable activity. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Shaffer detailed the negative implications propagated by anti-online gambling politicians, support groups and organizations.

He said that players gambling online have gone from more to less in a matter of weeks. This is an attribute that could have never been predicted. Therefore, the extent of online gambling has proven to be moderate at best.

Shaffer went on to reveal that only 1 percent of the overall global gambling population had participated in online gaming. Furthermore, there was no evidence to support that exposure to online gambling increase the risk in a player becoming addicted. Also, 75 percent of the 0.6 percent problem gamblers have other issues beyond gambling that contribute to their online addiction. The crucial aspect is that the other addictions came prior to the gambling addiction.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • 75 percent had drinking issues
  • 38 percent had drug disorders
  • 60 percent had a dependence on smoking

This recent research adds to the widespread knowledge at Harvard on the subject of problem gambling. The researchers have a two-fold goal of accumulating additional knowledge about problem gambling: enabling improved diagnostic regimes and reaching a balanced view on problem gambling.

Shaffer and Martin’s work is not isolated as they have built on the results of other researchers in the problem gambling field. There are actually several researchers that have been sponsored by major online gambling organizations. Also, there are studies assigned by regulatory bodies such as the U.K. Gambling Commission which have found similar results.

In the land-based casino environment, the serious gambler rarely shows their emotions, especially when intense games such as poker are involved.  After all, doing so could prove to be very fatal.  Players can let their guard down and relax a bit more when playing online.  This is because they usually play at home by themselves or in the company of family or friends who don’t mind seeing them get excited should they happen to score a nice payout.  If you are lucky enough to win money by gambling online, you have all the right to scream, shout and jump for joy.  However, if you are not able to control your emotions when playing at home on your computer, unleashing your excitement in the online world could lead to your downfall just the same.

A Fall From Grace

Online casinos are able to offer games with a lower house edge because their operating costs are much lower than land-based casinos.  This equates to higher payout rates and greater opportunities for the player.  Unfortunately, players tend to part with larger amounts of money faster online than when gambling in brick and mortar casinos.  The main reason – players get lost in their emotions and continue to wager when they should just sit back and enjoy their winnings.

Take the player who just cashed out big at an online casino for example.  After winning, they brag and boast to their friends, relishing in their good luck and all the money they won.  Convinced that today is their lucky day, they continue to gamble, now wagering with the feeling of invisibility.  Unfortunately, more often than not, the player ends up losing all of their winnings and may even dip further into their funds to hand over more money to the casino.  Desperate to get it all back at all costs, they keep gambling and continue to lose.  A good rule of thumb for online gambling is to never play more than you originally intended to bet.  If you do, you could find yourself chasing elusive winnings that only stand to deplete your bankroll in record time.

If the player in the above scenario would have kept their emotion under wraps and applied rational thinking to their subsequent wagers, the outcome would have probably worked more in their favor.  There is nothing wrong with showing a little emotion when you win money from betting online.  However, if these are substantial winnings, you may want to consider withdrawing them before popping the champagne cork and celebrating into the night.  The last thing you want to do is blow the money you won and lose even more by trying to redeem yourself.

Should You Gamble Online?

When it comes to gambling online, it is important to adopt the skill of being able to control your emotions whether you win or lose.  This is not as easy as it may sound so if you have never played at an online casino, you may want to practice with some free games before you even put up a wager.  If not, you stand the risk of losing a lot of money and taking the first step on the road to compulsive gambling.

In summary, although problem gambling is a disability that could result in tragic concerns, it is not a major threat to the majority of players. This and many other studies validate the claim that online gambling is not a problem for most online players.

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