What Makes Online Gambling Less Dangerous than Real-World Betting?

What Makes Online Gambling Less Dangerous than Real-World Betting?

Are you concerned by the amount you bet online? Chances are you’re spending less than what gamblers in brick-and-mortar casinos do.

Last week, we wrote about how gambling online doesn’t actually cause any more gambling problems than playing in a brick-and-mortar casino. Why, though? That’s the big question.

This article must of course be prefaced with the note that if you are concerned about your gambling habits, online or in real life, contact a gambling helpline in your country. We advocate responsible gambling, and if you feel your wagering is becoming a problem, stop and seek help.

The preliminaries being done, let us give you the good news. As we said, a study from the Harvard University-affiliated Division on Addiction has shown that, contrary to popular belief, online gamblers are no more prone to addiction that their land-based brethren.

Figures for problem gambling are no worse for online casinos than for brick-and-mortar casinos, with gambling addicts making up between 1 and 5% of the gambling population. One reason for this is arguably the level of regulation surrounding the online gambling industry, but that doesn’t explain why countries with more relaxed regulatory regimes show similar figures to those with much more stringent restrictions.

And in fact, with some exceptions, brick-and-mortar casinos are far more lucrative than their online counterparts. In 2013, the worldwide gambling industry was worth $475 billion, with online casinos making up only 7% of that figure. While in countries like Finland, the number of online gamblers is much higher, the total amount spent on any form of gambling totaled an average of only $50 a month in 2013. Big, but not unbearable, especially in a country where the median monthly wage is over $3,000 after taxes.

One reason for this lower rate of problematic gambling could be the casinos’ active promotion of responsible gambling practices. Because the casinos themselves are required to check ID, limit bonus abuses, and actively advertise gambling helplines, enforcement is perhaps much stricter than it would otherwise be. Another possible cause is that most online casinos also offer a self-exclusion service, which can nip minor problematic tendencies in the bud before they become big problems.

We’d say that the vociferous reactions against online gambling are not warranted. While we’re always going to come out in support of shaming bad-faith operators (like Unibet), we also highlight the good practices of casinos like Mr Green, LeoJackpot, and Vera&John, all of whom have well-functioning limits in place. While there are some flaws in the system (for example, the self-limiting applies only to one casino or group of casinos, meaning that someone who needs their fix can just open a new account at another casino), overall it seems to work quite well.

So what to make of this all? Perhaps that online casinos are safer? Well, the arrangements are definitely there to ensure that you’re not causing yourself or your family harm. It’s certainly more difficult to sell the family farm when the casino itself won’t let you.

But with all this in mind, there’s still seemingly something missing. Perhaps we should think about where you gamble…