Online survey targets internet gambling

7 January 2011

The results from an online survey will enable groundbreaking research into internet gambling, one of the fastest growing forms of gambling in Australia.

The initiative is a collaboration between the University of Sydney and Southern Cross University.

The Australian Gambling Survey Homepage will collect data that helps researchers, policy makers, and industry insiders gain a better understanding of internet gambling and the people involved.

Very little is known about the social and economic impacts of internet gambling despite a Neilsen survey of online activity in 2008 finding that it is one of the top 10 activities conducted online across all age groups and one of the top four online activities for people aged 35 years and over.

Dr Sally Gainsbury has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Menzies Foundation to conduct this research.

"As a clinical psychologist I'm concerned about the impact that internet gambling has on youth and problem gamblers - it is highly accessible, fast, can be played alone, at home, with just a credit card and unregulated sites provide few player protection measures," Dr Gainsbury said.

"Although internet wagering and sports betting is legal in Australia, internet casino games, gaming machines and online poker are illegal. These are increasing in popularity, particularly with young adults.

"Unregulated, illegal sites may also take players' money, run games in a fraudulent manner and allow under 18-year-olds to play.

"It is very difficult for policy makers and industry groups to respond to internet gambling without knowing many details about participation in Australia."

Dr Sally Gainsbury is a Research Affiliate in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney and currently holds a Post Doctoral Research Fellowship at Southern Cross University.

She will be collaborating with a team of researchers including Professor Alex Blaszczynski from the University of Sydney.

"Evidence of the growing popularity of internet gambling is reflected in the number of international jurisdictions legalizing on-line gambling and, within Australia, the heavy promotion of internet sports betting on television; cricket, football and basketball," Professor Blaszczynski said.

"Although the majority of people gamble within their affordable limits, a small percentage suffer severe negative consequences.

"At the University of Sydney's Gambling Treatment Clinic, there is a changing profile of clients presenting for treatment with more young males presenting with problems related to excessive internet sports betting behaviours.

"Psychological consequences of excessive gambling include severe depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, stress and marital/familial conflicts.

"This survey will provide important information to help target who is vulnerable to developing problem gambling behaviours," he said.

The research will survey all Australians over the age of 18 who have gambled for money in the past year and will conclude in June 2011.

The online survey can be seen here

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