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Online Gaming and the Challenge of Problem Gambling

Online Gaming and the Challenge of Problem Gambling

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General

Extensive research conducted in recent years proves that online gaming does not increase the social risks and damage of problem gambling. Moreover, comprehensive research that has investigated this issue has come to the conclusion that online gaming operators have more effective and sophisticated tools to prevent and combat problem gambling compared to the measures that are available in the offline gambling world. Such measures have been adopted in jurisdictions around the world that specifically regulate online gaming and have proved themselves to be highly efficient.
General

Extensive research conducted in recent years proves that online gaming does not increase the social risks and damage of problem gambling. Moreover, comprehensive research that has investigated this issue has come to the conclusion that online gaming operators have more effective and sophisticated tools to prevent and combat problem gambling compared to the measures that are available in the offline gambling world. Such measures have been adopted in jurisdictions around the world that specifically regulate online gaming and have proved themselves to be highly efficient.

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Published by: pokerplayersalliance on Mar 05, 2013
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Online Gaming and the Challenge of Problem GamblingGeneral
Extensive research conducted in recent years proves that online gaming does not increase the social risksand damage of problem gambling.Moreover, comprehensive research that has investigated this issue has come to the conclusion that onlinegaming operators have more effective and sophisticated tools to prevent and combat problem gamblingcompared to the measures that are available in the offline gambling world. Such measures have beenadopted in jurisdictions around the world that specifically regulate online gaming and have provedthemselves to be highly efficient.In this regard, the following key findings clearly demonstrate that there is no linkage between onlinegaming and an increase in gambling addiction and that online gaming operators have better tools andmeans at their disposal to deal with problems associated with gambling:
 
The
European Union
concluded in a formal report that "
it is difficult to draw a direct link betweenremote gambling and the likelihood of becoming an addicted gambler
".
 
A study conducted by the
Harvard Medical School
showed that
99% of the customers of onlinesports betting and 95% of online casino players did not display any unusual gaming behavior
.
 
A British Gambling Prevalence Survey found that
addiction rates for online gambling in the UKwere lower than for some types of offline games.
 Most regulated online gaming markets have required their licensees to ensure that
measures have been inplace to prevent and combat the problems associated with gambling. These measures have proved to bemore effective than the measures available in the offline gambling market
. Such measures include,
inter alia,
the following;
 
Providing defined and clear deposit limits
which are either set by the regulators or by the playersthemselves (for a certain period of time, for a certain number of games etc.).
 
Allowing easy and straightforward self exclusion by players, whether on a temporary orpermanent basis
.
 
 
Ensuring that comprehensive information regarding the players' play history is made available atall times to the players,
in order to allow the players to fully control their play and the moneyspent by them.
 
 
Prohibition on extending or granting credit to players.
 
Links to problem gambling help lines and websites.
 
 
2
While gambling addiction is indeed an issue, which should undoubtedly be addressed in any regulatoryregime of online gaming as it does in AB 2578, it cannot and should not prevent the introduction of newonline gaming licensing regimes.
The European Commission Study
Due to the rapid development of online gambling products directed at EU citizens, the EuropeanCommission launched a Green Paper consultation in early 2011 “to obtain a facts-based picture of theexisting situation in the EU on-line gambling market and of the different national regulatory models”.Following the comprehensive consultation and research conducted as part of the Green Paper, as far asproblem gambling is concerned, the European Commission concluded the following:
 
0F
1
 “Where such information is available, rates of probable gambling addiction appear to vary from0.3% to 3.1% of the entire population.
1F
2
Pathological (addictive) gambling has been considered bysome specialists as an impulse control disorder
2F
3
and therefore not referred to as addiction.However, recent studies have discovered similarities between gambling and substance addiction.
3F
4
 As mentioned in section 3.1, gambling problem screening tools used in surveys allow for theidentification of individuals that have severe problems with their gambling behavior. There arecontrary views as regards the addictive potential of on-line gambling. Although remote gamblingfulfils the criteria of availability and accessibility, making frequent playing easier than in case of land-based gambling venues,
it is difficult to draw direct links between remote gambling and thelikelihood of becoming an addicted gambler
.
On-line gambling provides operators with more sophisticated possibilities to track thetransactions of each player compared to off-line gambling formats
. In contrast to prevalencestudies, on-line gambling data allow for studies of the player’s real behavior.
A study of on ateaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School
,
4F
5
based on a long term analysis of individual gamingactivity of a random sample of nearly 50,000 on-line casino players from 80 countries and analmost equal sample of on-line sports betting participants showed that
99% of the customers of on-line sports betting did not display any unusual gaming behavior compared to 95% in the caseof on-line casino players
.
5F
6
 The report prepared for the Swedish Presidency in 2009
6F
7
mentions that although some researchsuggests the existence of a positive link between accessibility and gambling addiction, the availableempirical data do not always confirm this.
Where it has been possible to compare the results of prevalence studies carried out 7-10 years ago (when on-line gambling was less popular) with theresults of studies carried out more recently, the gambling addiction prevalence rate remainedsteady
.
7F
8
 
1
European Commission G
reen paper on on-line gambling in the internal market 
22,
2011 (“ 
EC Green Paper
”).
Emphasis added.
2
Data from 7 Member States, M. Griffiths
 , Problem gambling in Europe: An overview,
Appex Communications, April 2009.
3
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Ed., American Psychiatric Association, 1994.
4
Draft of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Ed., American Psychiatric Association, publication plannedfor 2013.
5
The study was carried out in a research partnership with bwin who made its customer database available.
6
LaBrie, LaPlante, Nelson, Schaffer, Assessing the Playing Field: A prospective Longitudinal Study of Internet Sports Gamblingbehaviour (with Schumann,) Journal of Gambling Studies, 2008; Inside the virtual casino: A prospective longitudinal study of Internet casino gambling (with Kaplan), European Journal of Public Health, 2008 and Population trends in Internet sports gambling"(with Schumann),Computers in Human Behaviour, 2008.
7
Svenska Spel, The cost of gambling. An analysis of the socio-economic costs resulting from problem gambling in Sweden. Councilof the EU. DS 406/09. Brussels, 2009.
8
For example: Finland and UK.
 
 
3
Also the British Gambling Prevalence Survey carried out for the Gambling Commission in 2007found that
addiction rates for on-line gambling in the UK were lower than for some types of off-line games and that the addiction seemed to be more linked to the introduction of new and thusmore "attractive" types of games, whether on-line or off-line
.
8F
9
Indeed, most regulated online gaming markets have
measures in place to prevent and combat problemgambling, which have been proven as more effective than the measures available in the offline gamblingmarket
. Amongst other things, such measures include: (i) the instituting of deposit limits; (ii) time limits;(iii) self exclusion (iv) involuntary exclusion; and (v) links to problem gambling help lines and websites.Examples:
-
Deposit limits
: In most jurisdictions, deposit or betting limits must be offered to players but areoptional (e.g. Nevada and Schleswig-Holstein). Other jurisdictions have default deposit limits set byregulation (e.g. Spain) and others do not allow players to commence any gaming activities without firsthaving set certain limits on their gaming activity. For example, in Italy and France, operators must denyaccess to gaming services to players who have not set individual gaming limits for fixed time periods.Furthermore, under the Italian online gaming regime, an operator's platform must allow the player toset: (i) a maximum wager limit per match; and (ii) a maximum game participation limit over a set time(e.g. daily or weekly). Under French regulation, the limits set by a player apply to the aggregateamount of deposits made and bets placed by a player for a seven day period. In addition, most jurisdictions' provisions concerning deposit limits specify time frames that restrict a player’s ability toraise a previously set limit (e.g. Italy – seven days, Denmark – 24 hours, Schleswig-Holstein – 48 hoursand any new increase of a previously reduced deposit limit cannot be set before the expiration of onemonth).
-
Self exclusion
: Players should be able to self exclude temporarily or indefinitely (e.g. Italy, France andSchleswig-Holstein). A temporary self exclusion should result in operators immediately ceasing toaccept bets from excluded players and refraining from contacting the player with marketing offers andpromotional information. Where players exclude indefinitely, operators in most jurisdictions arerequired to enter such players into a central list which should be checked by online gaming operatorsbefore registering new players (e.g. Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein). According to most regulationsproviding for indefinite self exclusions, a player's request for permanent self exclusion will result in themandatory closure of the player's gaming account and an inability to reopen an account before theexpiration of at least one year (e.g. in Denmark and France, the account may not be reopened beforethe expiration of three years).
-
In
Spain,
default deposit limits apply and players who wish to increase their deposit limits must firsttake a "
 problem-gambling prevention test 
".
-
In
Denmark,
operators have to display, at all times, a clock allowing a player to be informed of thetime spent playing. In addition, Danish regulations prohibit the employment of bonuses requiringplayers to wager a given amount within a time frame of less than 60 days.
-
In
Schleswig-Holstein,
operators must provide each player immediate access to details on the balanceof the player's account, the game history (including stakes, wins and losses), deposits and cash outs,and other transactions. These details have to be displayed immediately after a player has logged on to
9
Addiction rates among past year gamblers.
British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007 
, National Centre for Social Research, Sept2007.

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