Internet Gambling

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A Critical Analysis of Online Gambling Websites

Caroline Jawad
Swansea Business School
Swansea Metropolitan University

Stephen Griffiths
Swansea Business School
Swansea Metropolitan University

Mount Pleasant
01792 481118 (Direct Line)
01792 481132 (SBS Office)
Fax 01792 481127

Keywords: Internet gambling, problem gambling, gambling regulation

Paper presented at the 2008 EBEN-UK ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Cambridge

2 April 2008

Please do not quote without permission.
(10.03.08 CJ & SG)


Gambling online is growing exponentially, without the protection of reliable regulatory structures that ensure age and identity verification, the integrity/fairness of the games, or that responsible gaming features are included on a site. In a poorly regulated Internet environment, this study investigates gambling on twenty online sites. Content analysis was utilised to evaluate whether the sample displayed responsible gambling features. In the absence of established, agreed, regulatory evaluation criteria, the researchers constructed their own, based on examples of good practice on available websites and following the recommendations of the Gambling Review Report 2001 and the Gambling Act 2005.

The primary findings suggest that most online gambling sites are responsible and most show elements of good practice, which is of interest given the unregulated environment and absence of policing. While some features are derived from conventional gambling policies and regulatory influences, some are unique to the special ethical risks of gambling on line. Web designers and commissioning organisations appear to have anticipated social criticisms by incorporating guards against unethical outcomes before regulatory controls have been imposed. As the impossibility of regulating/controlling the Internet is a common cliché in many commentators’ analysis, this self regulation and willingness to refrain from taking revenue from vulnerable punters, is intriguing.

The authors recommend further research to establish an accurate picture, including the size and characteristics of the UK online gambling market. Secondly, to study and compare online gambling with more traditional forms of gambling in terms of underage and problem gambling. More studies need to investigate which forms of responsible gambling are most effective in reducing underage and problem gambling. Lastly, the response of the industry to legislation and micro regulation would be a guide for policy makers and responsible industry practitioners.


Since the increased popularity of Internet access into homes and workplaces in the early nineties, Internet gambling opportunities have expanded at a surprisingly swift pace and more people are gambling online (Wood, Williams and Lawton, 2007).The unregulated nature and uncontrollability of the Internet, with low or no tax gambling, have created a perfect environment for the proliferation of gambling (Crist and Yeager, 1998). Anyone, anytime, anywhere with a computer, a connection, and a credit card can gamble at hundreds of different online gambling websites. Recent statistics state there are as many as 2,500 gambling websites currently operating; consisting of 1,083 online casinos, 592 sports and race-books, 532 poker rooms, 224 online bingo sites, 49 skill game sites, 30 betting exchanges, 25 lottery sites and 17 backgammon sites (Casino City, 2006). Gamcare (2008) state that the number of Internet gambling websites is approximately 3,000. By 12 September 2007, the Gambling Commission had received only 146 applications for operating licences that include provision for online gambling, a minute proportion of the 2,500 sites worldwide. Internet gambling revenues in a single year were $651 million in 1998, more than double the estimated $300 million from 1997 (Sinclair,1999). Further, the global Internet...
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