A study in Australia has concluded that online gaming does not play a significant role in causing problem gambling.
The Interactive Gambling report, commissioned by Gambling Research Australia, surveyed nearly 20,000 Australians over three years and is described by its authors as the most comprehensive ever conducted in Australia and one of the most comprehensive in the world.
One of its key conclusions was that "there is currently insufficient evidence to conclude that interactive gambling is causing higher levels of gambling problems". Interactive gambling is defined as gambling using the internet, phone or TV.
The report found that 64% of Australian adults had gambled in the last year, with 8% having done so online.
It compared online and non-online gamblers and found that those gambling online are more likely to be male, young, unmarried, university educated, working full-time and consider themselves professional or semi-professional gamblers.
It also found that online gamblers have a more positive view of gambling and bet more on sports, races and poker and less on electronic gaming machines than other gamblers.
According to the survey, convenience and ease of access are the two main driving forces behind the growth of online gambling, followed by the perception that it offers more competitive products and pricing. The comfort of gambling at home was also a factor.
Of sports bettors, 80% placed their wagers exclusively online, compared to 57% of casino table game players, 43% of lottery players, 26% of poker players and 17% of electronic gaming machine players.
The vast majority (86%) of online gamblers use desktop or laptop computers to gamble compared to only 10% who gamble on their mobile phones and 4% on other devices, such as tablets.
Online gamblers tend to have an account with only one bookmaker. 54% of those surveyed reported this, compared to 21% who said they had two accounts and 25% who had more than two.