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Two Reports On Online Gambling

April 21, 2009

Recently two reports on online gambling have been released that will bring cheer to the proponents of online gambling. One is from the Harvard Medical School that claims that online gamblers exhibit discipline while wagering. The other is from Iowa State University that states that video games are more addictive than online gambling.

The Harvard report has been prepared in collaboration with Bwin, the European online gambling group, which has provided the data on which the conclusions are based. The study was headed by Dr. Howard Shaffer who is the director of the school’s Addictions Department. Dr. Shaffer revealed that the incidence of problem gambling in the United States has declined from 0.7% two decades ago to 0.6% today. This contradicts the expectation that the growth in online gambling would lead to rampant increase in problem gambling. Shaffer said, “The very first thing we learned, which we didn’t expect, was that the vast majority, the overwhelming majority, of gamblers online gamble in a very moderate and mild way.” Shaffer also had a word of advice for those who propose to curb online gambling through prohibitive measures. According to Shaffer these measures will prove ineffective. Instead Shaffer recommends education, public awareness programs, and truth in advertising regulation in order to ensure safety in online gambling.

The Iowa State University study was carried out by Dr. Douglas Gentile, an Assistant Professor of Psychology. The study revealed that almost ten percent of the respondents, who were selected from across the country, had pathological addictions to video games. And what is worse is that many of the addicted persons were children. Gentile said that the advancement in video game technology has made it attractive to children. Also unlike in online gambling which has been able to keep children out in reasonable measure, video games are easily available to children. These children have a problem focusing on their studies at school and are falling behind international academic levels. They played video games almost round the clock and even stole to support their addiction.

There is a strong move to prevent the legalization of online gambling, despite the much needed revenue it will bring in. One of the strongest reasons for this is that underage players would gain access to online gambling and become addicted to it. “What this study indicates is that video game playing in the US is exactly what these lawmakers are trying to stop with online gambling.” It seems that the lawmakers are going after the wrong form of entertainment.

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