Problematic Gambling More Prevalent on the Internet

Is there any relationship between Internet gambling and problem gambling?

A study published in 2009 suggests that there is.

The study was conducted by Jessica McBride and Jeffrey Derevensky of McGill University and published in the International Journal of Mental Health.

McBride and Derevensky created an anonymous online survey that assessed basic demographic information, internet gambling behavior, and problematic gambling behaviors.

The survey was advertised on the website and a total of 563 men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 completed the survey.

They found that 76.7% of those who completed the survey could be classified as social gamblers and the remaining 23.3% could be classified as problem gamblers.

These classifications were based on criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, better known as simply the DSM-IV.

“The rate of problem gambling among Internet gamblers is nearly 15 times higher than that of a community sample,” according to McBride and Derevensky.

“Compared to social gamblers, in this study problem gamblers spend more time gambling per session, are more likely to gamble alone, from school, or with a cell phone, gamble with more money, and lose more money gambling online.”

Gambling chipsThe study found no difference between men and women in terms of problematic gambling, although it did find a difference between age groups. Those between 18 and 55 were more likely to be problem gamblers than those over 55.

Problem gamblers were more likely to report gambling online to relieve boredom, anxiety, depression, and stress than social gamblers.

Compared to social gamblers, they were also more likely to use alcohol or other drugs while gambling online.

The study suggests that those with gambling problems may be particularly vulnerable on online gambling websites.

“It is clear certain aspects of the Internet, such as the 24 hour accessibility, the sheer number of sites, the high-speed play, the lack of safeguards for individuals who have been drinking or using drugs, and the ease with which one can hide a gambling problem, make it a risk factor for gambling problems.”


McBride, J. & Derevensky, J. (2009). Internet gambling behavior in a sample of online gamblers. International Journal of Mental Health, Vol 7: 149-167.

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    Problem gambling is an addiction characterized by a need to gamble more often, a need to bet more money, and an inability to stop. It are more prevalent among men, ethnic minorities, and lower socioeconomic groups