InfoPowa News — Although dated mid-2007, this study of online gambling by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada still makes for interesting reading.
University of Lethbridge academics were involved, with funding from the Alberta Gaming Research Institute.
The survey used a qualitative and quantitative Internet-based survey of 1,920 Internet gamblers in North America — not as significant or comprehensive as that done by eCOGRA, which sampled an international cross section of more than 11,000, but perhaps more focused on the reasons why gamblers use the Internet vs. land venues.
I think what surprised us most was the absence of a reference to eCOGRA's much wider study conducted by the University of Nottingham Trent. This may be purely a question of availability when the Canadian study was completed.
Here are a few "cherry picked" points from the survey:
The primary reasons people gave for preferring Internet gambling were (a) the relative convenience, comfort, and ease of Internet gambling; (b) an aversion to the atmosphere and clientele of land-based venues; (c) a preference for the pace and nature of online game-play; and (d) the potential for higher wins and lower overall expenditures when gambling online. Findings suggest that online venues may offer their clientele a range of experiences and benefits that are perceived to be unavailable at land-based venues.
Current industry estimates suggest that the worldwide number of Internet gamblers is at least 14 million and possibly as high as 23 million (American Gaming Association, 2006a; RSe Consulting, 2006), although these figures have not been investigated or confirmed by rigorous academic research.
Researchers have, however, attempted to assess the overall Internet gambling prevalence rate among the general population in particular jurisdictions. Observed rates have been consistently low, with most studies conducted in the late 1990s and early 2000s finding prevalence rates below 2%
Another online study of 552 Internet gamblers commissioned by the American Gaming Association, in 2006, found that 68% were male, 70% were under 40 years old, 61% had at least a college degree, 41% earned more than $75,000 a year, almost all of them used the Internet for other activities, and 70% had only begun gambling online in the past 2 years
The CamH study found that 56% percent of respondents were men and 44% were women. This suggests that Internet gambling is becoming a less gendered phenomenon than has been speculated by others.
A recent American Gaming Association (2006b) study found that the main reasons people gave for gambling online were convenience (48%); fun/excitement/entertainment (24%); greater comfort, not having to drive (24%); ability to win money (9%); and enjoyment of the anonymity and privacy (6%). Recently, Griffiths (2006) has also identified multilingual service, faster play speed, and the ability to pretend to be the opposite sex as significant advantages afforded by Internet versus land-based gambling.
It is encouraging to see studies emerging that investigate the characteristics and motivations of the growing population of Internet gamblers. Clearly, however, this population is still lamentably understudied, and substantially more research needs to be conducted on a wide range of topics and issues related to Internet gambling.
On average, respondents reported spending 5 hours per week gambling on the Internet. The median weekly time reported was 2 hours. Only 4.1% claimed to gamble online in excess of 20 hours per week. The online game most often played was slots/VLTs (40.9%), with cards (mostly blackjack) at 33.3%, keno/bingo at 14.4%, sports betting at 6.2%, and dice at 2.7%.
Of the 1,920 people who participated in the survey, 73.8% indicated that they preferred Internet gambling over land-based gambling.
Problem gamblers were significantly less likely than non-problem gamblers to prefer Internet gambling. This suggests that although many problem gamblers may prefer land-based gambling, they may utilize online services when land-based ones are unavailable, closed, or temporarily inaccessible. An alternative explanation may be that problem gamblers simply are likely to access all forms of available gambling, even though some forms may ideally be preferred over others.
Among male respondents, 75.6% reported that they preferred gambling on the Internet versus gambling at a land-based venue. In comparison, 71.5% of women reported the same.
The authors acknowledge that the most serious limitation to this study is the potentially nonrepresentative nature of the sample. Indeed, since the sample was self-selected at only a few Internet gambling portals, it is not possible to gauge the extent to which the sample reflects the broader population of Internet gamblers. It is at very least biased toward English-speaking North Americans.