Growth of Online Gambling. A Threat to Society?
Online gambling is expected to gross over $41 Billion by the end of 2015. With profits this huge, it’s obvious that the industry stakes claim to a significant portion of the market share online. So much so, in fact, that market researchers are highlighting trends that point to a greater percentage of people relying on online gambling as a form of entertainment. However, the trends are not all positive. Online gambling, in turn, poses a real threat to populations at large, including family units. With various issues arising due to the industry’s massive influx into the online space, it’s no wonder society questions the health of gamblers, and their families, in the coming years.
How Big Is Online Gambling?
Approximately, 51% of people take part in some form of online gambling every year. Online gambling itself claims 5-10% of the gambling market worldwide. Sites today cater to fans of poker, sports betting, bingo, lotteries, horse race betting, and general casino games. Betting remains the most popular of the games , generating $11.5 Billion wins worldwide, followed by casino poker and bingo. Losses are equally as monumental, with Americans losing almost $120 billion in 2013.
Gamblers are experiencing incredible losses from online gambling per year
The exact number of sites available online is not easily known, with a remarkable rate of site launches taking place every year. However, it is important to distinguish the legitimate sites from the less trustworthy in the pack. Some sites, such as newcasinosonline.org emphasise in their core value propositions that they wish to help people avoid the ‘problems of online gambling’. But is it still a marketing wash?
The Threats, The Concerns
Addiction to online gambling poses a real threat to the health of societies today
As much as the numbers point to a financially lucrative industry, online gambling points to equally staggering trends in a not-so positive light. Its addictive nature poses a huge threat to societies and families at large. In Britain, for instance, where online gambling displays the most potential for growth worldwide, the number of problem gamblers has reached over 1 Million, while extreme cases of addiction have reached over 500,000. Given these massive rates of addiction, what exactly are families and societies faced with?
Problem gamblers are typically seen at casinos, spending consecutive days trying to earn their big wins. They often leave empty-handed, disparaged and exhausted. The cycle stops when family and friends notice the problem and support the gambler in alleviating his struggles, keeping he or she away from the casino. Online gambling, on the other hand, poses an insidious threat, one that the support of family or friends can not help with. Online gamblers can play at home, work, on their mobile phones and essentially in any given scenario. The accessibility to online gambling and its ease of hidden play, can turn the most amateur gambler into a deeply addicted one. In turn, land casinos might be able to ban problem gamblers, but there is very little preventing the addicted person from accessing an online casino. If, in the event, a problem gambler is banned from a site, it’s relatively easy for them to access another one.
Approximately 4% of teenagers has an addition to online gambling. Teens who are less acquainted with the industry, are also less likely to be conscious about the sites they access, and the reputability of each. Not only is the addiction a problem from a psychological perspective, but sites that feed on the vulnerable, also pose a huge threat to to this younger population. Their families, as a result, suffer the consequences of living with disengaged, distracted and, often times, depressed teens who have developed an unfortunate addiction.
Additionally, impulse betting is just one click away. The impulse to chase one’s losses requires little thought, just the simple click of a button. No longer does the gambler need to physically withdraw money from a bank machine, since all bank accounts are accessible online. On the internet, it is very easy to forget that electronic money is real money. Many families have had to face the aftermath of drained bank accounts, due to a family member’s hidden addiction.
Online gambling has grown to epic proportions over the last few years. Not only has the industry’s entry into the online space given rise to a new wave of gambling fanatics, it has also taken a lucrative stance within the online market. However, its financial success has not come without a cost to itself, and to families, communities and societies worldwide. With gambling addiction posing a real threat to the world, online gambling has exacerbated the issue that much more.
When an industry is this big, it’s hard to put the ‘genie back in the bottle’, but it’s important to recognise the things we can do ourselves, such as recognizing there is a problem. Many reformed gamblers vouch for the incredible work delivered by the group at Gamble Aware and the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133. Of course, there are many things we can also do to help ourselves, such as using parental control tools to restrict access to online gambling sites. K9 Web Protection from Blue Coat is free of charge for personal use. Ask a friend to set it up to block unwanted sites and categories such as ‘gambling’, then hide the password. Next time you try to access a gambling site – the K9 Dog will prevent the site from loading.
If you’ve got tips and tricks to help with a gambling addiction, please share. We’d love to hear from you.