Thursday, May 6, 2010

Self-Limits in Internet Gambling

Responsible internet casinos follow the lead of their terrestrial counterparts by offering a self-exclusion option -- and many of the programs are tied together, so that one application results in exclusion from myriad gambling sites. Furthermore, options for partial exclusions also can be made available -- as with Sweden's Svenska Spel.

In 2008, addiction researchers published an article that looked at the behavior of internet gamblers who took advantage of a self-limiting option. (The article grew out of an ongoing research collaboration between web gaming company bwin and the Division on Addictions associated with Harvard Medical School.) Daily (1000 euros) and monthly (5000 euros) deposit limits are imposed by bwin, but internet gamblers are allowed to choose lower limits. (The 1000 and 5000 euro limits were those in place at the time of the study.) At least for the sample used in the article, the vast majority of gamblers on bwin chose not to establish their own limits. Those who did self-limit, however, tended to decrease the frequency of their betting and the amount wagered. More than 10 percent of self-limiters abstained completely (from gambling with bwin) after imposing the limits; more than 7 percent imposed limits before they placed their first bet.

The authors point out that the time devoted to gambling can be as big a problem for some people as monetary losses. Self-limiting programs could invoke time constraints, on a per session, per-day, per-month (and so on) basis. (Come to think of it, something that limited my time on the internet to two hours per day might make my life better...)

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