Expert warns of dangers of Internet gambling, especially on youth

March 16, 2012 By Jessica Martin

Participating in an online March Madness bracket or fantasy sport league is harmless fun for most people, but for someone with a gambling addiction, it can be a dangerous temptation.

“Now, with states entertaining the possibility of increasing revenue through legalizing internet gambling, it is even more important to pay attention to groups that may be vulnerable to problem gambling, particularly youth,” says Renee Cunningham-Williams, PhD, gambling addictions expert and associate professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Internet gambling provides youth with increased opportunities to gamble, which is particularly concerning because this generation is arguably the most technologically savvy of any generation in history.”

Cunningham-Williams says that young people have not passed through the period of risk for many mental disorders, yet need to navigate coming of age in an environment of increased acceptability and accessibility to gambling.

“Based on available research, it is unclear if the Internet contributes to more gambling problems, but we know that those who choose to gamble using the Internet and experience problems are often involved in other forms of gambling as well,” she says.

“The Internet may make gambling opportunities more attractive, accessible and available.”

Cunningham-Williams agrees with the National Council on Problem Gambling’s position that advocates a harm-reduction public health approach to problem gambling.

“Such an approach recognizes that strong regulation is necessary but not sufficient,” she says.

“We need a comprehensive strategy that involves prevention and education about the harms associated with illegal and , effective treatment, and continued research. We do not currently have a lead federal agency to advocate for efforts to reduce the harm associated with problem .”

Cunningham-Williams says that although most Americans gamble without significant problems, for those who do experience problems, and the even larger at-risk groups, the individual, familial and social costs are devastating.

“There is help available — call 1-888-bets off,” she says.

Explore further: Stakes are high for problem gamblers

Related Stories

Stakes are high for problem gamblers

October 31, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- People with gambling problems are unlikely to identify as having a problem or to seek help unless they have experienced serious impacts or harms, according to new research released today.

Internet gambling on the rise in Australia

January 18, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Internet gambling is on the rise in Australia according to new research from the University of Sydney and Southern Cross University, with factors such as convenience and ease of access contributing to ...

Recommended for you

Serious research into what makes us laugh

November 24, 2015

More complex jokes tend to be funnier but only up to a point, Oxford researchers have found. Jokes that are too complicated tend to lose the audience.

Psychologists dispute continuum theory of sexual orientation

November 19, 2015

Washington State University researchers have established a categorical distinction between people who are heterosexual and those who are not. By analyzing the reported sexual behavior, identity and attraction of more than ...

Babies have logical reasoning before age one, study finds

November 18, 2015

Human infants are capable of deductive problem solving as early as 10 months of age, a new study by psychologists at Emory University and Bucknell finds. The journal Developmental Science is publishing the research, showing ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.