Two of Harvard University’s most esteemed researchers, Howard J. Shaffer and Ryan Martin, recently conducted a study into problem gambling and findings were released in a paper entitled “Disordered Gambling: Etiology, Trajectory and Clinical Considerations” which was published in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.
The findings of the study indicate that prevalence of problem gambling is on the decline over time and that online gambling does not in fact lead to problem gambling.
Obviously in light of the massive media coverage online gambling gets in terms of continued legislative debates surround its legality, with proponents often citing “problem gambling perpetuation that cannot be controlled” as online gambling’s main evil, this was a lot for everyone to swallow.
The Chicago Tribune carried the follow up interview with Shaffer to discuss his findings in further detail which revealed that while there has been exponential growth in gambling both online and at land based venues, the prevalence of gambling problems is showing a decreasing rate from 0.7% to 0.6%. Shaffer explained that for the majority of the U.S population, gambling is an enjoyable yet controlled pastime. He also firmly negated the anti-online gambling view held by major politicians and lobbyists based on the fact that it presents a higher risk of creating problem gamblers and he has the statistics to prove it, commenting that “People gambling online change their rates of gambling from more to less in weeks, we never would have predicted that. The extent of online gambling for the majority is remarkably moderate.”
The conclusions of Shaffer & Martin’s study can be summarised as follows:
- A meagre 1% of the world’s gambling population has played online.
- There is no substantiating evidence that being exposed to online gambling sites increases a player’s risk of problem gambling and addiction.
- 0.6% of U.S based gamblers may be classified as problem gamblers.
- 75% of this group have addictions to things other than gambling and these addictions preceded their gambling addictions, thus these people have existing addiction profiles.
- Within this 75% group, 75% are abuse alcohol, 60% are addicted to smoking and 38% abuse drugs.
While in stark opposition to political views propagated by the media, these findings are not altogether new and many studies commissioned by esteemed organisations like the UK Gambling Commission have seen similar results that re-enforce these conclusions.
What can be drawn from this study and the numerous others that preceded though is the fact that addictions of any kind are a real disability for the sufferer, often with serious and tragic consequences within their lives and the lives of those close to them, however online gambling does not automatically amount to problem gambling and it is definitely not the uncontrollable threat that it is often portrayed to be. So enjoy yourself the next time you visit an
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The Daily Telegraph recently reported that the International Olympic Committee will be taking steps to institute a widespread ban on gambling on the Olympic Games to be held in London in 2012.
The ban will be taken as a preventative measure to thwart match-fixing controversies that continually plague sports like football and cricket alike and will apply to all 11,000 participating athletes as well as their coaches and support staff. Furthermore, politicians, VIP’s, accredited journalists and other event “insiders” will also be subjected to the prohibition. So those in the mood to gamble will just have to stick to playing online casino games instead.
The IOC hopes to combat illegal and irregular betting, as well as cheating and match fixing through its newly imposed policy and aims to take a tough stance against these practices and anyone involved in them. According to IOC president Jacques Rogge, illegal gambling and match fixing pose “the biggest threat to the credibility and integrity of sport” and in a statement made at the 123rd IOC session held in Durban this week, Rogge added that protecting the integrity of sport is a priority for the IOC and that in all areas, cooperation with governments was essential to combat anything that stood against this.
As the governing body of the Olympic Games, the IOC holds the ability to strip competitors of their medals and ban them as well as their coaches and support staff from future competition if regulations are breached at any time from 16 July 2011 until 15August 2012. From the tough stance that Rogge is taking, it seems that this is more than an idle threat but where does that leave gambling operators and sports books?
According to Rogge, the Olympic committee is in favour of a system whereby sports book operators will receive government permission to accept bets on the various events and will be awarded with a special operating license to do so and they will work with various sporting bodies and federations to expose threats. The IOC will also work within the regulated gambling sector to help establish guidelines, identify and close loopholes in order to help operators identify any scandals or planned match fixing for teams.
This is an emerging trend in European sports betting sectors where online gambling operations partner with sports bodies to ensure the integrity of the games and promote information sharing thus minimizing cheating and preventing illegal betting patterns.
It remains to be seen whether the IOC will succeed in its bid to crack down on gambling activities, match fixing and cheating within next year’s games but sports analysts believe that sports books will go all out to take advantage of and capitalise on the prestigious event’s major games.