Pathological gambling – as is the official scientific term for this condition, is a problem many people are familiar with. If not them personally then somebody somewhere in the family had gambling problems at one point or the other and this disease is well documented and there are ways to treat it. But what exactly do we talk about here?
Compulsive gambling is a type of disorder where the addicted person cannot control his or hers impulse to gamble, even though they are aware that in doing so they will hurt their close ones or even themselves. Compulsive gamblers keep on betting no matter what, no matter if they are broke, if the odds are against them, if they cannot afford to lose, etc. and this causes all sorts of problems in their lives.
Having this type of disorder causes long-term damage to person’s social, spiritual and intellectual life. Isolation and depression, anxiety and aggression are all common symptoms when we come across this illness. However, these symptoms are usually very sneaky and hard to notice, and that is the reason gambling addiction is often called “hidden illness”. Patients try very hard to hide all the evidence until the situation gets completely out of their control.
With the rise of online gambling and the overall hype that is present when talking about online casinos – many communities, doctors and individuals have raised their concerns about the addiction being even more present with players who do not actually visit land-based casinos, at least not very often or not regularly.
There are several factors which cause those claims about online casinos being more addictive and dangerous than gambling in real-life ones and here some of them:
If online gambler gets addicted and spends way more time playing than is normal, it is a lot easier to notice that and then remove him or her away from the table then it is to take somebody’s phone just on the claim that they hold it too much.
It is also a lot easier to “avoid play” if you are addicted to a land-based casino, because this type usually involves at least some logistical maneuvers to get to the right place (car, gasoline, hotel booking, cash money, going to ATM, etc.) but when playing in an online casino you just need to start-up your laptop and the next bet is waiting for you.
Aside from the obvious advantages when it comes to basic elements of convenience, there are also factors of bonuses, free spins, “free-to-play” apps, and all sorts of tricks which are used to attract potential gamblers. And when it comes to money it’s usually easier to spend virtual money because sometimes the brain forgets that they are not just mere numbers.
Anonymity is also declared as a potential advantage of online casinos because for a lot of people it is convenient to gamble without family or colleagues knowing.
As we see there are a lot of elements to support the claim we mentioned above, but not everybody agrees. Harvard’s Medical School has conducted a research recently and on a sample of 4.000 online gamblers they haven’t found any bigger signs of addiction than on gamblers who visit land-based casinos. However, online casinos are still a fairly new thing so we probably need to wait a bit longer to see if they really do cause more problems.