In the United States, gambling statistics show that live and online gambling has generated as much as $91 billion per year (as of 2006). The industry is responsible for billions more in related tourist income as well as the economic benefit of hundreds of thousands of jobs. In some states, gambling through lotteries is even used to raise money for college scholarships or much-needed infrastructure projects.
When it comes to the gambling statistics related to what kinds of games Americans are playing, there might be some surprises. While commercial casinos still take in the largest share of legal gambling revenue (43% in 2000), and lotteries take second place (28% in 2000), online gambling is estimated to bring in an amount that is roughly equal to what is spent in Indian casinos each year. As the internet reaches more homes, so does online gambling. And unfortunately, so do some of the possible negative side effects.
People who oppose gambling in general believe that it brings higher crime rates to an area. Of course, this isn’t eligible for online gambling, unless you consider the possibility of your financial information being misused or hacked. But this risk isn’t any greater with online gambling than with online shopping or bill paying.
What is a concern is compulsive gambling. Some statistics on online gambling have shown that about ½ of 1% of the population may have a problem with compulsive gambling. True compulsive gambling means that the person cannot control their impulse to make the next bet, even when they are risking their job, home, health, or relationships. And United States gambling statistics show that people are twice as likely to become addicted to gambling when a casino is located within 50 miles of their home. With the advent of online casinos, there is no longer any true distance at all between a gambler and a casino, meaning more people have the potential to become addicted to their favorite online gambling game at a higher rate than to live gambling or playing the lottery. This has lead opponents of online gaming to call it the ‘crack cocaine’ of the gambling world.
This problem has a serious impact for those who suffer from it, with compulsive gambling statistics showing that as much as 48% of the members of Gamblers Anonymous have considered suicide. And of those, more than 10% report having made a suicide attempt.
Plus, some opponents fear that there is a great deal of opportunity for money laundering and organized crime via online casinos. Since the US doesn’t allow any of them to be located in the country, companies have set up shop in foreign countries with questionable, if any, regulations. Some fear that US online gamblers may be unknowingly contributing to criminal activity.
However, for the majority of us, compulsive gambling statistics don’t apply. Online gambling is just another way to enjoy the internet, and perhaps to even earn some extra spending money! If you are able to set a limit on the amount you spend and stick to it, and if you don’t endanger yours or your family’s financial well being with the limit you set, then chances are you will not become one of the negative gambling statistics. But if you do ever find that your online gambling affects your work, your family, your health, your finances, or your social life, then you may need to seek some professional help.
Jean Asta is a full-time writer & management analyst for clients on several