Is all Internet gambling equally problematic? Considering the relationship between mode of access and gambling problems

14 April 2020

Concerns exist that Internet gambling may increase rates of gambling harms, yet research to date has found inconsistent results. Internet gamblers are a heterogeneous group and considering this population as a whole may miss important differences between gamblers. The differential relationship of using mobile and other devices for gambling online has not been considered as compared to the use of computers. The true relationship of Internet gambling on related problems and differences between preferred modes for accessing online gambling may be obscured by confounding personal and behavioural factors. This paper thus uses the innovative approach of propensity score matching to estimate the consequence of gambling offline, or online through a computer, as compared to mobile or other supplementary devices by accounting for confounding effects of difference among groups of Australian gamblers (N = 4482). Gamblers who prefer to gamble online using computers had lower rates of gambling problems as compared to those using mobile and supplementary devices. Individual life cycle was useful to differentiate between groups, indicating age, marital, and employment status should be considered together to predict how people gamble online. This is the first empirical study to suggest that the mode of accessing Internet gambling may be related to subsequent harms.