Gambling online is an increasingly popular way to spend money. The growth in this sector has been dramatic, with online gambling revenue estimated to have passed the US$33 billion mark by the end of 2016. Although it is largely unregulated and under-researched, the industry’s annual revenues continue to grow. The emergence of Internet-based gambling services has been driven by the expansion of personal computer capabilities, the advent of broadband connectivity and advances in digital communications.
While traditional gambling involves betting on events such as casino games, horse racing and sports, online gaming encompasses a much wider spectrum of activities. These can range from playing video games to poker, placing bets on sports events and even online bingo. The popularity of online gambling is largely due to the convenience and accessibility it offers to players. Online casinos are available 24/7 and can be accessed from any location with an internet connection.
To gamble online, a person needs to have a computer or smartphone with a reliable Internet connection. They then need to create an account on the website of the casino they wish to play at. Once they have an account, they can choose which games to play and then deposit money into it. The funds are then used to place bets and can be withdrawn at any time. The most common activity associated with online gambling is playing casino games. This includes games such as roulette, blackjack and poker. Many of these sites offer a free to play version, where players can try out the games before spending any money. These games are often extremely addictive, and players can quickly find themselves with hefty imaginary bank accounts.
In addition to casino games, there are also a number of online lottery and sports betting sites. These sites are primarily designed to be accessible from mobile devices and allow users to play on the go. While the majority of online gambling is done at home, one in five people report that they have gambled outside of the home.
Although a growing amount of research has been conducted on the risk factors associated with Internet gambling, most studies have been limited by the use of single-player data sets and small sample sizes. In addition, most Internet gambling operators do not share player data with researchers or implement policies and strategies to identify problem gamblers and provide support services. Despite these limitations, early identification of at-risk gamblers is vital in the prevention of gambling-related harms. The development of a robust system of early identification and intervention is therefore an important priority for the online gambling industry. In order to do this, additional research is needed into the identification and definition of risk indicators, including: