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Online gambling can take place anytime, anywhere - all you need is a credit card and an internet connection. The online gambling industry has been growing in the past few years, but now even more so with many casinos being closed due to the COVID-19 restrictions. With the pandemic, many people are also experiencing increased feelings of boredom, loneliness, and financial stress, which can lead them to gamble. 

Glamorous advertisements for gambling and sports betting are also becoming unavoidable, and they don’t tell you about the risks associated with gambling. 

What Makes Online Gambling So Dangerous?

1. It’s More Addictive 

Since you don’t have to go anywhere in order to have access to online gambling literally at your fingertips, it is that much harder to quit. There’s not much stopping you from gambling at work, school, or on the bus ride home. 

Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused more online gambling, since people aren't leaving the house as frequently. 

2. Offer of Free Play

Many online casino sites will offer players a free version where pretend money is used in order to get them hooked on the game. What these casinos don’t tell you is that In the free version, the odds are more in the player’s favor.

The goal is that once the player has had some success with the free version, they will feel confident enough to start gambling real money. The problem with this is that the moment real money becomes involved, online casinos change the odds to work in the favor of the house. 

When playing games like Poker online, you may think that you’re playing against an actual person, when in reality, you’re playing against a poker bot who is designed for optimal play and is often impossible to beat. 

3. Easier to Hide 

People who have a gambling problem may see online gambling as less of a big deal because they can hide behind a screen and stay at home. However, it’s more addictive because it’s easier to hide.

Online gamblers may not realize they have a problem because it’s not disrupting their lives in terms of work and social activities. Friends and family members may not even be aware that their loved one gambles, and therefore can’t help them quit.

man entering credit card information on laptop

4. Less Protection for Compulsive or Problem Gamblers

At in-person casinos, problem gamblers will at times get banned from the casino. Online casinos cannot monitor this as well. In some cases, when a player tries to give up gambling for good, online casinos will do everything they can in order to get their loyal customer back. They may bombard you with ads, or lure you back in with a special one-time offer. 

Also, be aware of the privacy policy that you are agreeing to when you sign up. Some gambling sites collect your browser history collect your browser history, your spending habits, your demographic data, and other information about you, to gain a sense of what games or sports you like to gamble on. 

These sites also cannot enforce a legal age, since underaged kids can easily lie about their age in order to get access to the games. 

5. Easier to Spend Money 

It’s so easy to transfer money between accounts, or put it all on a credit card which you won’t get a statement for until the next month. Many players may not realize how much actual money they are spending, since they are not physically holding cash in their hands like they would at a casino.

Quick Tips for Safer Online Gambling

  • Only sign up for gambling sites if you are above the legal gambling age
  • Only allow yourself to gamble for a certain amount of time per day
  • Set a spending limit and stick to it. Also set a winning limit - once you reach this number, it’s time to back away before you lose it all. 
  • Tell someone your spending limits so that they can help hold you accountable 
  • If you feel that your gambling is becoming a problem, talk to a gambling counselor to get help.

At Algamus, we believe that a gambling disorder should be treated with the same urgency and seriousness as a chronic physical health issue. If you believe that you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling disorder, please reach out to us at 888-527-2814, and we can help you identify the next best steps to take. 

Topics: Gambling Addiction, covid

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.