Online Gambling – Harmless hobby or destructive diversion?
Gambling is “the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods”. People are innately attracted by risk, with the opportunity to bank a quick buck being an alluring prospect. But when does gambling go from being a manageable past time to an ever-engrossing problem? Does the online-gambling revolution have a major part to play in all of this?
On the surface Jersey would appear to be gambling central. We have no less than 29 Betting Shops freckling our shores – In January the JEP indicated that we have more than double the number of bookmakers compared to similar size areas in the UK. On the flipside, there is an argument that it would more prudent for customers to have a flutter amongst the bricks and mortar than entering the world of online gaming.
The UK spends £2.3bn on online gambling each year – a growth of 80% since 2008 and predicted to grow by 34% over the next four years. Rates of problem gambling in the UK are on the increase – recent figures show a number of 0.9% (who meet this criteria) compared to 0.6% in 1999 and 2007. A 0.3% jump in the space of half a decade is a rather significant leap and the online gaming industry has to accept a large portion of the blame.
Gone are the days when a trip to the local bookmakers would involve stumbling into an array of weary eyed punters wearing sheepskin coats and herringbone caps. Twenty years ago the only way of placing a bet was putting your money on the counter, clasping your slip before proceeding to watch the 4.30 at Haydock on small black box in the corner.
Gambling has come along way since then – the population is deluged with frivolous advertisements, which use celebrities such as Ray Winstone to give betting a glamorous, light-hearted feel. Bookmakers such as Ladbrokes and William Hill will often give bonuses and offers upon registering to their site, in order to lure you into this world of online excess. Placing a bet is literally at your fingertips and whilst it can be of great convenience, it can also be a grave danger to those vulnerable to addiction.
It is so easy for players to make a deposit to an online account and in many cases they will end up spending more money than they can afford. Your home is now a 24/7 casino. Before online gambling people would count their losses and leave, now of course you can continue placing bets – there is no finality to a gambling session. This can result in people chasing their losses to the extent that they end up in a financial grave.
The online gambling revolution is set to stay. There is no doubting it’s convenience but this accessibility can lead to a myriad of problems. It is paramount that people regulate their spending habits and remain disciplined or your hard earned funds could, like a roulette wheel, spiral out of control.
* Problem gambling, or ludomania, is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop.
If you are experiencing an addiction to gambling, there are two main support groups where Islanders are urged to seek help:
Funded by the Jersey Gambling Commission, Gambling Therapy Jersey, services include online advice and support for individuals, online support groups, a forum, and a database of useful resources. All of these services are available to anyone with a gambling problem and those affected by someone’s gambling.
Online advice is available in various languages including Portuguese.