JOURNAL ARTICLE

Excessive Gambling and Online Gambling Communities

Anu Sirola, Markus Kaakinen, Atte Oksanen
Journal of Gambling Studies 2018, 34 (4): 1313-1325
29623505
The Internet provides an accessible context for online gambling and gambling-related online communities, such as discussion forums for gamblers. These communities may be particularly attractive to young gamblers who are active Internet users. The aim of this study was to examine the use of gambling-related online communities and their relevance to excessive gambling among 15-25-year-old Finnish Internet users (N = 1200). Excessive gambling was assessed by using the South Oaks Gambling Screen. Respondents were asked in a survey about their use of various kinds of gambling-related online communities, and sociodemographic and behavioral factors were adjusted. The results of the study revealed that over half (54.33%) of respondents who had visited gambling-related online communities were either at-risk gamblers or probable pathological gamblers. Discussion in these communities was mainly based on sharing gambling tips and experiences, and very few respondents said that they related to gambling problems and recovery. In three different regression models, visiting gambling-related online communities was a significant predictor for excessive gambling (with 95% confidence level) even after adjusting confounding factors. The association of visiting such sites was even stronger among probable pathological gamblers than among at-risk gamblers. Health professionals working with young people should be aware of the role of online communities in terms of development and persistence of excessive gambling. Monitoring the use of online gambling communities as well as utilizing recovery-oriented support both offline and online would be important in preventing further problems. Gambling platforms should also include warnings about excessive gambling and provide links to helpful sources.

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