The Convergence of Gambling and Gaming Addictions on the Internet
Research suggests that excessive online gambling and gaming may lead to symptoms commonly experienced by substance addicts. As the Internet offers a new venue for gambling, the risks for engaging in pathological behaviours are potentially increased. This talk examines the relationship between gambling and gaming on the Internet and possible addiction by assessing Internet gambling and gaming in general and addictive gambling and gaming on the Internet specifically. Based on previous research, it is argued that a combination of individual, situational and structural characteristics determine whether and to what extent individuals engage in Internet gambling and gaming. The results suggest that there are more problem gamblers and gamers on the Internet than in offline situations. Empirical evidence comprising more than 100 studies indicates that for some players, gambling and gaming addiction exists and that as the addiction develops, online gambling and gaming addicts spend increasing amounts of time preparing for, organizing, and actually gambling and gaming. A reason for this may be the structural characteristics of the Internet inherent to this technology, namely availability, ease of access, anonymity, and convenience. In conclusion, however, the Internet cannot be claimed to be addictive per sé, but rather to facilitate the engagement in addictive behaviors, including gambling and gaming.