Gambling was a lot different before the internet. Almost all gambling was done in person or through a local bookmaker. It is incredible to see just how much things have changed over the years. We now have the technology to gamble online whenever we want. But should we?
History is replete with examples of outspoken people who opposed gambling in every form. In many cultures, gambling has long been considered a vice in the same league as prostitution, drug use, etc. Yet it is a completely acceptable activity in others. And in some countries, like the US, it is a mixed bag.
There are currently 16 states in the US that allow some sort of online gambling. Not all of them allow online casinos or poker. Some limit their offerings to only online sports betting. Meanwhile, nearly every form of gambling imaginable is acceptable in the UK. Gamblers across the four nations can gamble online to their hearts’ content.
Taking Casinos Online
The most dramatic change in the gambling world has arguably been taking casinos online. What was once confined to land-based casinos and urban betting shops now exists in the cybersphere. In terms of actual online casinos, there are now hundreds of them – if not thousands. They are operated by tech companies located in Malta, Canada, the UK, and elsewhere.
It is all made possible by technology. High-speed internet makes online gambling fast and seamless. Mobile phones and tablets make it possible to gamble from virtually anywhere. Virtual private networks and cryptocurrency enable gambling even where it is illegal. Technology has created the ideal situation for gamblers who want to play their favourite games but do not have the means to travel to a land-based casino on a regular basis.
That brings us back to the question of whether or not we should really be gambling online. Critics say that online casinos only prey on problem gamblers by making access too easy. They say that online opportunities only make what they consider a vice more difficult to control. Proponents say that online gambling offers a lot of advantages.
Why People Gamble Online
Ask any regular online gambler why they prefer the online environment, and you are likely to hear a variety of reasons. Gamblers appreciate the online model for the following:
- Convenience – Not having to travel to a land-based casino or betting shop makes gambling awfully convenient. Gamblers can play slot machines, catch a couple of rounds of poker, or bet on an upcoming sporting event whenever it is most convenient for them. They are not confined to regular business hours.
- 24 Hour Access – Hand-in-hand with convenience is 24-hour access. Gambling online allows a person to enjoy their chosen hobby whenever they have the available time. If a gambler is awake at 3 a.m. because he normally works the C shift, he can play the slots on his day off, while everyone else is sleeping.
- Privacy – Some gamblers prefer to do what they do in privacy. They do not much like betting shops and traditional casinos because they don’t like having so many people around. For them, gambling in the privacy of their own homes is the only way to go.
If all of this is not enough, the online model gives people the opportunity to shop around for gambling sites in the same way they would shop for anything else. It’s not like the old days when you might have had access to a single betting shop or land-based casino.
A Ton of Gambling Information
The online model has also led to the emergence of a whole industry devoted to keeping gamblers up to date with the latest information. With a simple search, you can get the latest betting lines. You can find slot game reviews covering titles from all the major designers. You can see reviews of games released just this week alongside others that are 10 years old.
Gamblers who prefer table games can find all sorts of information explaining rules and strategies. They can read about the origins of their favourite game. They can discover how one game evolved to create another. The volume of information is nearly limitless.
Maybe It’s Too Easy
It is reasonable to look at all of the positives online gambling has to offer and automatically assume that it’s a good thing. It is also reasonable to assume that gamblers and operators alike believe the online model to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. And perhaps it is. But maybe it’s not. Maybe online gambling makes gambling too easy.
There is no doubt that some people lack the ability to control themselves at the gambling table. Like any other activity, gambling does have its problem users. The downside to online gambling is that it makes it easier for problem gamblers to feed their habits.
In some jurisdictions, regulators require online operators to do what they can to prevent problem gambling. They might require operators to limit the amount of time a visitor can spend on their site during a single session. They might require operators put a timer in place, a timer that interrupts gamblers and lets them know how long they’ve been playing. It’s anyone’s guess as to how effective the measures really are.
Exposing Young People to Gambling
Another potential risk of online gambling is exposing young people to an activity they do not have the maturity to properly deal with. This is another area in which regulators take a very serious position. They do not allow online operators to market to young people. They also require operators to verify the ages of everyone looking to sign up for an account.
Technology has taken slot games, table games, and sports betting out of the traditional casino and put it online. That’s a good thing, at least to those who enjoy online gambling, and the gambling operators will make it possible. It is not a good thing for people who generally oppose gambling.
Should we be doing it? That’s an individual decision. As long as online gambling is legally available where you live, you have to make the decision as to whether or not it’s right for you. Where it remains illegal, the decision has already been made for you.