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Cyberpsychol Behav. 1999;2(5):441-56. doi: 10.1089/cpb.1999.2.441.

Compulsive internet gambling: a new form of an old clinical pathology.

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Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto, CA, USA.


Online casinos have sprung up practically overnight into a multi-million dollar business, attracting a large number of gamblers worldwide. This article focuses on unique and psychologically significant factors that are involved in Internet gambling behavior, in comparison to traditional gambling procedures. Several of the aspects of Internet gambling, which are believed to facilitate excessive online gambling, are examined here in depth. These include the practical ease of access to online gambling and the anonymity and privacy of gambling from one's own home, as well as other factors. An overview of the graphical interface of several typical virtual casinos shows how seductive and realistic the online casino experience can be. The psychologically derived methods used by Internet casinos to make online gambling attractive, accessible, and easily operated are delineated. A review of the literature related to excessive traditional gambling behavior is used as a basis for analysis of online gambling behavior, in order to assess the extent of virtual gambling. The global nature of the Internet, combined with the limited, if not impossible, ability of local governments to effectively regulate or ban online gambling, will have profound psychological and social consequences. Studies of the effects on the psychological welfare of communities that underwent introduction to traditional casino gambling are reviewed, and evaluation is made about how virtual gambling might have negative social influence worldwide.


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