The director of the Harvard Medical School's Addictions Department, Dr. Howard Shaffer, has some interesting views on Internet gambling, backed by an extensive study of problem gambling that includes access to a wealth of practical data from the giant European online gambling group Bwin. Harvard and Bwin have been collaborating on the research and development of a better understanding of responsible gambling for some time.
Shaffer revealed that, contrary to often unsubstantiated assertions by anti-gambling organisations, the level of problem gambling has stayed almost static despite major increases in US gambling generally over the past two decades. In fact, the incidence of problem gambling among the population has declined slightly from the levels experienced in the ‘seventies – from 0.7 percent back then to 0.6 percent today.
And dire predictions that the wider availability of gambling generally would lead to a substantial increase in gambling related disorders had not materialised.
Recent surveys in the USA had shown a considerable demand for online gambling among punters in that country, despite legislative attempts to restrict the pastime, he said.
The impact of Internet gambling has been of particular interest to the expert, who comments: "The very first thing we learned, which we didn't expect, was that the vast majority, the overwhelming majority, of gamblers online gamble in a very moderate and mild way."
Shaffer opines that prohibitive approaches to Internet gambling are unlikely to be effective, but that education, public awareness programs, and truth in advertising regulation all can help keep gambling safer.
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