Cyber gambling on the rise

Dr Sally Gainsbury gets the low down on internet gambling.
Dr Sally Gainsbury gets the low down on internet gambling.

Gambling on the internet is becoming more popular with Australians, according to new research from Southern Cross University and the University of Sydney.

"People appear to be gravitating towards online gambling because of the availability and the convenience," Dr Sally Gainsbury from SCU's Centre for Gambling Education and Research said. "It can be accessed anytime, anywhere."

Dr Gainsbury led the investigation into internet gambling in Australia. With more than 6680 participants taking part in the online questionnaire, this was the largest ever survey of internet gamblers in Australia.

"For people with existing gambling problems, internet gambling may create additional risks," Dr Gainsbury said. "The use of electronic funds did increase spending for some players and may create negative consequences for some people.

"Gambling problems do take a while to set in before causing really severe consequences, so as people continue to play online we may see more problems emerge from this form of gambling," she said.

The investigation recommended players should be encouraged to set limits on their spending. It also recommends pop-up messages suggesting a break during long sessions, and self-tests to determine the risk of developing gambling problems.

The research shows the main advantages of internet gambling to gamblers are the convenience and availability and the lack of crowds, unpleasant people and anonymity.

Most participants played on Australian-based sites but there is concern about the legality of sites and where they are based. Playing on offshore sites may result in identify theft, fraud, losing funds and cheating, with little recourse for Australians.

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