Online gambling is a very popular activity in the United States. There are a wide variety of gambling sites that can be used by consumers to wager on sporting events, lotteries, and poker games. The majority of these sites have player-focused features and tools to help moderate play. Most offer self-set spending limits and time-outs.
Despite its popularity, the legality of online gambling is still a debate. However, the federal government has not explicitly banned Internet casino and poker sites. In fact, several states have passed laws allowing gambling activities and taxes to be collected from the internet.
During the 1990s, the popularity of online gambling grew. As technology evolved, the industry benefited from an increase in social influence. Some people perceived the activity as a way to relax and have fun. Others, however, saw the potential for online gambling to be a health threat. Gambling online was controversial because it appeared to be an end-run around government control.
As the industry grew, so did the concerns of legality. By the late 1990s, the federal government was able to begin addressing online gambling issues. Although UIGEA remained a talking point for years, the Department of Justice began investigating the regulations surrounding online gambling. It was also able to pass legislation to allow states to create their own legislation on the issue.
One of the most important hurdles to broader online gambling regulation is the morality of the activity. This is a difficult question to answer because there are some who perceive gambling as an amusing pastime and others who see it as a threat to their wellbeing. Many believe that if players are allowed to self-exclude, or to restrict their use, they will be less likely to develop problems with gambling. Nevertheless, there are some who believe that there is a causal relationship between gambling involvement and problem gambling.
Researchers have studied the prevalence of gambling problems and gambling disorder among Internet gamblers. Using a database of actual gamblers, a team led by David LaPlante of the University of Illinois at Chicago found that gamblers who report high levels of involvement are more likely to engage in Internet modes of play. Additionally, they found a link between problem gambling and gambling formats.
While it is difficult to predict whether or not a gambler will develop a problem, many factors may contribute to the risk of developing a gambling disorder. For example, gambling problems are often associated with certain risk-taking behaviors. A high level of impulsivity and a willingness to take risks may contribute to such behaviours.
In addition, there are some indications that the emergence of gambling problems in Internet gamblers is caused by a single factor. Research conducted by LaPlante and colleagues showed that gamblers who report more gambling activities in the past 12 months were more likely to be classified as problem gamblers. But not all highly involved gamblers are at risk for gambling problems.
In addition to the research, the US Congress has begun examining the regulation of online gambling. The Isle of Man has also recently introduced a law to regulate gambling on the internet.