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J Gambl Stud. 2007 Sep;23(3):347-62. Epub 2007 Jun 17.

Assessing the playing field: a prospective longitudinal study of internet sports gambling behavior.

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Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.


Internet gambling is growing rapidly, as is concern about its possible effect on the public's health. This paper reports the results of the first prospective longitudinal study of actual Internet sports gambling behavior during eight study months. Data include recorded fixed-odds bets on the outcome of sporting contests and live-action bets on the outcome of events within contests for 40,499 Internet sports gambling service subscribers who enrolled during February 2005. We tracked the following primary gambling behaviors: daily totals of the number of bets made, money bet, and money won. We transformed these variables into measures of gambling involvement. We analyzed behavior for both fixed-odds and live-action bets. The median betting behavior of the 39,719 fixed-odds bettors was to place 2.5 bets of 4 euro (approximately $5.3 US) every fourth day during the median 4 months from first to last bet. This typical pattern incurred a loss of 29% of the amount wagered. The median betting behavior of the 24,794 live-action bettors was to place 2.8 wagers of 4 euro every fourth day during the median duration of 6 weeks at a loss of 18% of the amount wagered. We also examined the behavior of empirically determined groups of heavily involved bettors whose activity exceeded that of 99% of the sample.

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