Online Gamblers At Higher Risk For Drug Abuse

People who gamble online are more likely to abuse alcohol and marijuana, according to a study from Concordia University in Canada.

Dr. Sylvia Kairouz and her colleagues used data from 2009 Quebec survey of over 8000 offline gamblers and 111 online gamblers. They were asked to report about how often they gambled in the past 12 months, providing the number of times per week, month and year.

“Our results show that online gamblers report being involved in more types of gambling, and they spend more money and time playing than those gambling off-line only,” Dr. Kairouz. “The proportion of frequent and problematic drinkers and cannabis users was much higher among the internet players.”

This may mean that people who enjoy high-risk behaviors can participate in a variety of them, i.e., gambling, drinking, smoking marijuana, etc. Or the reverse could be true — gambling leads to participation in more risky behaviors.

“We cannot determine whether gambling on the internet creates problems in and of itself or whether those who will already have addictive behaviors are more likely to be enticed to gamble on the Internet,” Dr. Kairouz, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, said.

The number of online gambling websites grew from 15 in 1999 to over 2,300 by 2010. Annual revenues for online gambling now amount to over $24 billion. One unique advantage to online gambling is that people who own smart phones can gamble any time and any place. There are online lotteries and casinos that feature sports betting, poker, horse racing betting, bingo and so forth. Since many websites are based in foreign countries, and since states regulate gambling in the United States, most laws that apply to online gambling are new and hard to enforce.

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