Psychology: Is internet gambling is more addictive than land-based casinos?

Gamblers can gamble in front of their home computer without the need of other people or closing the casino. In addition, providers know who is most likely to fall for them: young adults are more receptive to gambling via the Internet. Lotto’s harder in the age group.

According to experts, gambling on the Internet is much more addictive than in casinos. “At home at the computer, those affected cannot be controlled,” warned psychologist Chantal Mörsen of the University of Mainz. Games of chance on the Internet are available around the clock; usually not even the family notices when a player falls for them.

According to current studies, there are 250,000 gambling addicts in Germany; this corresponds to the number of drug or alcohol addicts. Mörsen is an expert at the “Symposium on Gambling 2008” of the Research Centre for Gambling at the University of Stuttgart- Hohenheim. Experts will discuss the implementation of the State Treaty on Gaming and the latest findings of gambling research there on Thursday and Friday.

Life is subordinated to the game

According to the stock exchanges, pathological gambling addiction is characterised above all by the fact that players subordinate their whole life to gambling. “The financial burdens are increasing, social relationships are separated – and the game continues.” Often the whole thing leads to hopelessness and resignation. “In such situations, the risk of suicide increases.”

“There is still no boom in online gaming in Germany,” Mörsen reported. Nevertheless, the danger is great. “Especially since gambling addiction can develop very rapidly on the Internet.” While an addiction to the machines in the casino develops slowly also because of the social control, it is usually very fast in the Internet. “Also because the players can stay on for 24 hours and put their winnings right back in.” Being able to bet immediately on the next goal scorer, the fastest of the next round or something similar at sporting events is a special attraction.

Everything is tried out

Online gambling is also so dangerous, Mörsen said, because it is aimed at the social group that is most likely to become addicted to gambling: young adults. “They try everything. They also lack experience of how best to deal with their stress and problems,” said Mörsen. Younger people were more willing to accept offers they feel they could help them in the short term.

The most dangerous are always the gambling offers, which bring direct profits, as for example slots in the casino. In the lottery, the risk of addiction is relatively low because players have to wait quite a long time for their winnings. Lotto and other lotteries could, however, be an introduction to gambling addiction, especially among young people and young adults.