The Dangers of Online Gambling

Online Gambling is a popular pastime for many, and can take on many forms including virtual casino games, sports betting, sweepstakes, skill gaming and fantasy sports. It can also be found in online video games, with skin betting and virtual currency common features. While it may be less obvious than gambling in person, it is equally addictive and can lead to serious consequences such as financial difficulties, depression or anxiety and an inability to focus on other activities. This can also have adverse effects on children and young people, with the possibility of repercussions ranging from being excluded by friends to dropping out of school.

Unlike bricks-and-mortar casinos, which are generally located in regulated environments, gambling on the internet is unregulated. This makes it easy for problem gamblers to hide their addiction from loved ones, leading to a lack of support and even isolation. It is also difficult to monitor activity since it can be done from any location with an internet connection and a computer or mobile phone.

The psychological and emotional impacts of problem gambling online are similar to that of an iceberg, with the negative aspects rarely visible until they have already caused severe damage. Behavioral symptoms of online gambling include social withdrawal, obsessive preoccupation with placing bets and poor performance at work or in school. The impact on health includes lowered immunity and weight loss or gain due to sleep and food deprivation. It can also result in financial problems, with problem gamblers prioritizing their habit over their obligations and engaging in illegal activities to fund their addiction. Treatment for online gambling is available through inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing are two therapies that have proven effective in treating gambling addiction. With CBT, patients work with a therapist to identify faulty thoughts and behaviors, such as the belief that they are “due to win” after a string of losses, and learn tools to reframe their thinking and respond more appropriately.