Online Casinos Are Not Increasing Addictive Behavior

According to a Harvard study the rate of addictive gambling is not increasing

Casinos have always been labeled as dens of iniquity by the self-righteous that wish to push their values on everyone else. The scantily clad waitresses, endless supplies of booze and flashing lights all work together to separate the unwary from their cash. According to a recent report commissioned by the Institute for American Values, casinos “are associated with a range of negative health, economic, political, intellectual and social outcomes.”

Conversely, online casinos generate none of the negative social consequences that disrupt neighborhoods. Free-minded individuals are able to indulge their habits and have a little fun in the privacy of their homes. This type of wagering cannot be more disruptive than say, your local bingo hall or playing the lottery. Not so, says an editorial in The Christian Science Monitor, an online casino “allows easier, more anonymous accessibility to wagering than do casinos or lotteries. With the click of the mouse, a teenager at home could become a gambling addict, despite any promised safeguards.”

Modern video gambling coffeehouses have begun to take hold in Illinois. These small cafes are designed to appeal to women, reports The Chicago Tribune. They serve coffee, wine and snacks all in a low-key environment; in “cozy, well-lit spots with names like Stella’s Place, Emma’s Eatery, Dotty’s and Betty’s Bistro.” These cozy little distractions are actually vices, preaches executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, Keith Whyte. “They tell themselves they’re just popping down to get a scone or see a friend or get some time away from the kids, but what they’re really doing is engaging in the same kinds of activities as they would at a casino,” he sermonizes.

So now, a respectable soccer mom who ventures into a comfortable little shop in search of respite is in danger of contracting an unbreakable addiction. Instead of making assumptions and drawing predetermined conclusions based on personal virtues, maybe someone should use science to gain a perspective on the effects of distractions such as online casinos — while someone has, Harvard Medical School.

In the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, researchers Howard Shaffer and Ryan Martin concluded, “the rate of PG (pathological gambling) has remained relatively stable during the past 35 years despite an unprecedented increase in opportunities and access to gambling.” Shaffer says, “If you smoke a few cigarettes, you’ll probably soon be smoking every day. If you shoot heroin a couple of times, pretty soon you won’t be able to live without it. But for the vast majority of those who gamble, control comes easy.”

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