[The stakes of online gambling in Canada: a public health analysis]

Elisabeth Papineau, Jean Leblond
Canadian Journal of Public Health. Revue Canadienne de Santé Publique 2011, 102 (6): 417-20
Available data show that online gamblers spend more money and dedicate more time to playing compared to gamblers who do not play online, and are more likely to experience gambling problems. Among online players, young people and poker players show higher rates of gambling problems. These observations can be explained in part by such dangerous aspects of online gambling (and also electronic gaming machines) as: immediate and convenient accessibility; ability to pay electronically and to play on credit; anonymity; and the possibility for players to consume alcohol or other drugs while playing. These are elements that could facilitate the development or the intensification of problem gambling. This being said, the public discourse about the inevitability of legalized online gambling is quite unanimous and built upon such arguments as: the imperative duty of the state to protect the population against the dangers of the online gambling black market; and the fact that the medium in itself provides excellent consumer safeguards. A growing number of legislators are following the trend and choosing to establish state control over online gambling. We present some epidemiological and analytical data that challenge some of these assertions and decisions. We recommend a better integration of public health arguments into the commercialization and marketing of online gambling.

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