Internet gambling has emerged as the fastest growing mode of gambling. In 1996, only fifteen sites existed, but by 1997, more than 200 had popped up. And by the end of the decade, the market for online gambling had grown to more than $830 million. The industry has seen growth, and is expected to reach $400 billion by the year 2015.
Gambling on the internet has the potential to disrupt sleep patterns and create gambling disorders. It also poses unique issues related to electronic payment, which have yet to be addressed in other industries. Fortunately, some gambling operators have taken the lead in implementing strategies that help customers manage their wagers.
Some online casinos provide players with self-set spend limits. Others offer a variety of “instant” games, which are available without downloading anything. These sites use sophisticated software that helps gamblers place bets and enter contests.
Some online operators are taking measures to monitor and detect risky players. This is a particularly important feature for gamblers with problems. Yet the implementation of a single risk indicator is not likely to be sufficient. Rather, an analysis of the individual accounts of several gamblers may be the best bet.
While there are many legal and regulatory barriers to online gambling, it is still legal in some states. But the government has the ability to seize property and assets in cases of gambling violations, such as rogue sites, if they have been found to be engaged in illegal activity. However, the law has been challenged in court on constitutional and due process grounds.
Many countries have laws that restrict the use of the internet for gambling. However, it is unclear whether these laws are being effectively enforced. Also, state officials have expressed concerns that gambling on the internet could be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions.
As a result of these concerns, Congress has explored regulations for internet gambling. One bill, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, was introduced in the US Senate in 1999, and would have made all forms of online gambling illegal. A similar bill, the Goodlatte and Kyl bill, would have restricted online gambling activities to lotteries and horse racing.
Research on the impact of online gambling on gambling disorder is still in its infancy. Few online operators have taken steps to detect and prevent risky behavior. They have also not provided much data to researchers for study. However, it has been demonstrated that some forms of Internet gambling are responsible for the formation of disordered gamblers.
Unlike offline gambling, Internet gambling presents an environment that is highly accessible, thus contributing to the problem of disordered gambling. Additionally, the high number of gamblers interacting with their computer screen increases the probability that a gambling problem will develop.
There are no definitive answers as to whether or not Internet gambling is a risky endeavor, though it appears to be an increasing concern among gamblers. Nevertheless, a growing body of research is finding that it can contribute to the development of gambling disorders, especially among younger and more involved gamblers.