Online Gambling and Poker Addiction
Before the time of online poker and gambling, those with an addiction would have to travel to casinos or betting shops to feed their cravings. Now, thanks to the Internet and smartphones, gamblers are able to place bets online at any time or anywhere. This ease of access and convenience of play is significant when it comes to raising the risks of users developing an online poker addiction.
Online poker allows players many tables at once, with some sites allowing a player up to as many as eight tables at a time, meaning the speed of play is much faster than in a casino. This results in almost constant action for the player and is fertile ground for developing an online poker addiction. A classic poker game, such as Texas Hold ’em, can take up to five minutes to play in a casino, whereas online, this can be as little as 40 seconds per play, giving users the rush of a gambling high more often per session, and allowing them to bet away more money.
Whilst gaming that takes place both online and in casinos can be addictive, the instant gratification and quick play offered by online gambling make it much easier to become addicted. Yet, unlike games played in casinos, the risk may relate more to the loss of time as opposed to a loss of money. With online gambling, it is possible to play small stake games for hours on end, whilst only using a few pounds.
Why a gambling or online poker addiction may be more dangerous than a regular gambling addiction
Many view a gambling habit as an addiction when a person is not able to cut down. People may become irritable when not able to play and it can also affect their personal lives and the lives of their friends or family. Still, there are some aspects of online gambling that make it more difficult to treat:
- One of the most dangerous features of online gambling is that wherever a user has Internet access, they have gambling access. Online betting, gambling games, and apps allow users 24/7 access, whereas users would have to travel to a betting shop or casino in normal circumstances.
- In regular casinos, they may refuse entry or play to users that appear over-intoxicated; thereby, preventing players from making uninformed decisions or betting over their means. With online gambling though, there is no way of preventing an intoxicated player from joining a game and placing bets.
- In a casino or betting shop, players will often meet with friends or go together in groups, where lesser addicted friends making better-informed decisions may influence them. These circumstances are not available when betting online in solitude, allowing users to become carried away by themselves.
- Casinos and betting shops run strict over-18s-only policies, making it quite difficult for those underage to engage in such activity. Whereas online, no human contact is necessary, making it much easier for underage players to gamble. Younger players are at a much higher risk of developing an online poker addiction, even if they are only playing ‘demo’ or free-play games.
To address the ease of developing a dangerous online gambling addiction, some sites provide self-limitation features—allowing users to set limits on their play time or how much money they can deposit. Studies show that self-imposed limits help to reduce the addictive betting behaviour.
Those with an online poker addiction may show signs of irritability and restlessness when away from online gambling. They may look to gamble to solve or avoid problems and will often be unsuccessful in their attempts to stop.
For more information on the treatments services offered by Charterhouse Clinic for gambling addiction, please visit our gambling addiction treatment page.