The Internet and secure online payment systems have transformed the gambling experience from trips to the casino and card games in the basement into everyday events, arranged in as much time as it takes to turn on your computer. But that easy accessibility poses problems for individuals prone to addictive behaviors.
"The integration of online gambling in the home can more easily turn gambling behavior into a component of a consumer's everyday life, like watching television," says hotel administration professor Kathryn LaTour. "When online gambling becomes a routine daily behavior, it is easier for consumers to engage in mindless consumption of that activity, ultimately resulting in addiction and resultant financial losses."
LaTour and colleague June Cotte of the University of Western Ontario, interviewed both casino and online gamblers to learn how gambling feels and is perceived by the consumer. The results of their study, "Blackjack in the Kitchen: Understanding Online Versus Casino Gambling," was published in the February issue of the prestigious Journal of Consumer Research.
Their analysis included strategies to reduce online problem gambling. One solution, LaTour says, is to allow legitimate corporate sponsors of gambling, like those running major casinos in the U.S. and the government sponsors in Canada, to enter a newly regulated market for online gambling.
The study also suggests the better use of age checks when signing up for an online account; cross-checking new users with lists of pathological gamblers; sending instant messages about problem gambling treatment; having a gambling counselor available online; and mandatory "cooling-off periods," which force online players to wait for a set amount of time before they can wager money from their accounts.