Here at the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ), we help people find the resources they need to gain control of their skill-based problem gambling in Atlantic City and other casino gambling hubs. But in the past 15 years or so, a new form of gambling has grown in popularity: internet gambling. In 2013, this form of gambling was legalized in New Jersey, and there are numerous websites that are authorized and approved to do business within the state.
Also known as online gambling or interactive remote gambling, internet gambling is, in many ways, more dangerous than casino gambling, even when it is done on a legally authorized site. (Illegal sites present even more hazards, which we’ll only touch on briefly.) Here are some reasons that even legal online gambling can be dangerous:
1. Lack of a Physical Location Increases Accessibility
When you want to curb your casino gambling, an obvious step is to stop going to casinos. This is often easier said than done for problem gamblers, but it is possible with willpower and support. Avoiding online gambling platforms is much more difficult because the temptation will be there whenever you log onto your computer or look at your phone.
This also makes it more difficult for your loved ones to keep tabs on your gambling. If a problem gambler unexpectedly disappears for a while, his or her friends and family will likely be able to figure out what’s going on: the player has gone to a casino. Since you can gamble online wherever you are, it’s harder for others to tell how much time you’re spending on your gambling. 1This makes it less easy for them to determine the extent of your problem and get you the help you need.
2. Without Physical Cash, Losing Doesn’t Feel as Bad
When you lose at a casino, a physical object such as chips, coins, or cash, leaves your possession. Via online gambling, however, losses are only visible as numbers on a screen, so the money you’ve lost feels more abstract and less tangible.2
Since your only limit is the amount of money in your account, you can lose thousands of dollars or more. This makes online gamblers more prone to impulse betting and major losses.
3. Online Gambling is Anonymous
The anonymity of online gambling can make it harder for players to control themselves. Casinos typically don’t allow people who are visibly intoxicated to gamble. For example, in Nevada, it’s against the law for a casino to make gambling available to a visibly drunk person.3 Anyone can gamble online, even while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
This anonymity makes online gambling available to anyone, even those who are too young to gamble in a casino. Casinos are regulated by age-limit laws: typically, the rule is that no one under 18 is allowed in a casino, and no one under 21 is allowed in a casino where alcohol is served. Online gambling platforms have no enforceable age barrier.4
4. Online Gambling is Designed to Let You Win… At First
Online gambling platforms know how to make gamblers want to come back for more. They may run promotions or incentives to get you started. Those who experience the initial satisfaction and thrill of winning are likely to return to the platform, even after the promotion is over.
5. Do You Know Who You’re Dealing With?
If you’re going to gamble online, then you need to be sure you’re using a legally-authorized platform. 5 If you choose to play on an illegitimate site, you should know the potential risks:
Do your research beforehand and make sure the website is legal and legitimate by checking New Jersey’s official list of authorized gaming sites: https://www.nj.gov/oag/ge/gamingsites.html
Even if the site itself is safe, you should exercise caution when using one. If you or someone you know struggles with disordered gambling, help is available via CCGNJ.