Online Casinos Did Not Create Surge in Gambling Addiction

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The policies of legislators on online gambling are hugely different from country to country. In the United States online gambling is mostly banned, and players spend most of their time in land-based casinos or engaged in social gambling activities over the internet which doesn't involve any real money. In Europe, the policies are much different - in most countries of the European Union online gambling is regulated based on a common framework, generating significant tax income for their respective governments. There is one problem that holds back the creation of unified legal frameworks for the world's governments on online gambling, though - the widespread belief that easy access to gambling outlets online will create a surge in gambling addiction. But science has proven that this is far from being the truth. A study conducted by the Harvard Medical School's Division on Addiction has found no evidence of this claim.

The team from Harvard took a good look on problem gambling statistics for the last 35 years to observe any tendency of growth in the number of problem gamblers. Online casinos were first introduced in the mid 1990s, so if they have the potential to create a gambling addiction boom, it should have shown up in the statistics so far. But the researchers have found that despite the increased availability of online gambling, the instances of gambling addiction have remained constant in the time period they studied.

This means that even if people play slot games at any online casino each day, they generally don't fall into excess and become problem gamblers at all. And casinos go to lengths to increase their user base - the Royal Vegas, for example, offers its players free bets, deposit matches, promotions and specials each month, not to mention their library of over 700 exciting games to play. More importantly, professinal casinos like Royal Vegas have excellent player support. Players who might feel that they have a gambling problem can contact casino support and request that a daily deposit limit be set on their account in order to help them curb their spending. Players can also close their account quickly. But most importantly, these online casinos are committed to promoting responsible online gambling and hence are approved and certified by important bodies such as eCOGRA, indicating that they engage in safe gambling practices.

The Division on Addiction of the Harvard Medical School has conducted a survey on the gambling behavior of over 4,000 online gamblers - the largest batch ever to be surveyed in a scientific study. Their findings were interesting: the number of players who have exhibited "intense gambling behavior that far exceeded the rest of the sample" was only between 1% and 5%. The study has concluded that the surge in problem gambling the anti-online-gambling activists like to use in their rhetoric is not caused by online casinos.

But let's take a look at the numbers, shall we? According to a recent estimate, gamblers have lost about $475 billion worldwide in casinos. And the percentage of cash lost at online casinos is a minuscule part of the total - not even 10%. Players in the United States (where access to online gambling is restricted to just a handful of states) have lost a staggering $109 billion in 2013 alone. And about 80% of the Americans gamble at least once a year.
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