Since the introduction of online gambling in 1996, it has become a multi-billion dollar industry. According to the Washington University at St. Louis Gambling Rates Study, еhere are nearly 7 billion people on the planet, and 4.2 billion have gambled at one time or another in their lives. Undoubtedly, this fact has a positive impact on the economics, as online gambling brings massive revenue to it (online gambling market was estimated at $39.5 billion, in 2014).
On the other hand, the popularity of online gambling has caused a number of problems, including the prospective for a player to become a pathological gambler. In other words, a player may experience a serious addiction (pathological gambling is recognized as a clinical disorder). Considering the fact that this is not the only problem that online gambling may cause, responsible gaming is becoming a focus among both the public and online casinos.
POSITIVE IMPACT OF THE ONLINE GAMBLING INDUSTRY
If to take a closer look at the online gambling industry, it obviously has a positive influence both on the economics and people by providing:
- Convenient & easy-to-access entertainment – Players can access the gambling sites from anywhere via their computer, tablet or smartphone to get entertained.
- Extra profit for gamblers – By playing and winning casino games, people can improve their financial position, as most online casinos provide real money prizes.
- Enrichment of the countries’ economics – Considering the fact that online gambling was estimated as a multi-million industry, it regularly brings a profit to the countries in a form of gambling tax, charged both by the gambling institution and a gambler. For example, the tax revenue in Oklahoma was at $20.38 million in 2012.
NEGATIVE IMPACT OF THE ONLINE GAMBLING INDUSTRY
Taking in mind the fact that there are always two sides of the medal, gambling industry also has some negative effects and risks to people involved in it.
- The easy accessibility of online casinos leads to gambling addiction of gamblers, making it difficult for them to set their personal limits and to stop playing online casino games.
- Overspending. A person can easily spend money that he doesn’t mean to spend. This causes a player to cover up his losses or placing himself in a difficult financial situation.
- Total isolation from the society. Those who abuse gambling may cut themselves off from the external world, real life, and people, spending all their time in front of their favorite game.
- Poverty & crime growth. Falling into debt and the crime level increasing are the logical consequences of the poverty that excessive gambling often causes.
WHAT ONLINE CASINOS ARE DOING TO PROMOTE RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING?
When looking for a casino to gamble with, you may notice that many of them have responsible gaming policies. These are based on providing extra security measures to ensure safe gambling by emphasizing the following:
- Establishing limits before gambling – some online casinos provide an option to set a certain limit on the amount of money that a gambler can spend during a specific period (one day/ one week/ one month).
- Special warnings instructing the players not to gamble if they are in any sort of heightened emotional state, such as when feeling angry/ stressed or after drinking alcohol. Some online casinos let players block the access to the gambling website for a specific period of time.
- Expert advice – they have the links to the websites that can help individuals experiencing gambling problems.
- Safety proofs – The safety self-regulation certificates (such as eCogra and TST) are significant for players’ recognition by proving game fairness, best practices, equitable gaming advocacy, and regular audits of casino’s payout ratio.
WARNING SIGNS OF HAVING A GAMBLING PROBLEM
Like any other disease, gambling addiction (also known as pathological gambling that in 1980 was officially recognized as a clinical disorder) has multiple symptoms. These can help identify the illness easily:
- Planning the next gambling session/ reliving past gaming experiences/ always making sure there is gaming money available.
- The need to spend a great amount of money to achieve a specific level of excitement.
- Restlessness and irritability when trying to quit or reduce gambling habits.
- Avoiding other problems and relieving stress or depression by dint of gambling.
- Returning to gambling even after losing in order to “chase losses.”
- Lying to friends and family members about gambling habits to cover up the money lost.
- Engaging in illegal activities to pay for gambling habits.
- Difficulties at work, school, or in relationships due to gambling.
- Borrowing money to finance gambling habits/ to dig out of a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.
When there is a problem, it is very important to tell your family or friends about it. There is counseling for gambling addiction (GamCare, Wesley Mission, Mission Australia, etc.). A counselor can also direct you to a support group for people addicted to gambling where everyone can talk openly and hold one another accountable. There are also self-help workbooks, gambling helplines in the UK, US, Canada and all around the world, online support groups and rehabilitation centers that require a stay for a specific period of time.
Owing to the easy accessibility of online casinos, minors are at risk of falling into gambling addiction. Depending on the country, there are different gambling age restrictions varying from 18 years of age to 21 years. But regardless of the legal gambling age, the problem of underage gambling is acute in most countries. In order to prevent underage individuals from gambling, casinos are now utilizing age verification procedures (using age verification software).
If we talk about safety measures that parents should betake, this include:
- Protecting credit & debit cards from the child’s use.
- Checking credit card statements for unusual activity.
- Using parental monitoring programs (Spyrix Free Keylogger, Key9 Web Protection, etc.).
- Talking to children about the online gambling.
Despite the fact that online gambling may have both positive and negative influence on people and society, it is always important to follow the rational mind when playing your favorite casino game. Realizing all potential problems and risks will never go wasted. Though most online casinos provide security measures to protect their clients from all possible problems, we strongly recommend you to play responsibly and know your limits.