Assessing the differential impacts of online, mixed, and offline gambling

Abstract

The emergence of new behaviours associated with communication technologies has prompted questions about the evolution of gambling in the population. The development of online gambling gave rise to public health concerns back 20 years ago. Current knowledge indicates that online gamblers generally tend to show more psychosocial problems than offline gamblers. But those portraits tend to neglect the differences between pure and mixed online gamblers.

The goal of this research is to assess if, and to what extent, online gambling generates more harmful impacts on the health and well-being in a sample of adult gamblers in Québec. The propensity score matching method was chosen to assess the variable prevalence of impacts on a sample of 810 regular gamblers recruited from an online panel. They were divided into sub-groups: pure online gamblers (n = 143), mixed online gamblers (n = 125), and a control group of offline gamblers (n = 542). The study has revealed that among online gamblers and their entourage, online gambling does, in fact, result in an extra burden of impacts in several aspects of their lives: work, relationships, mental/physical health, finances, quality of life, and problem gambling according to the Canadian Problem Gambling Index.

Results also show that combined with offline gambling, online gambling significantly increases the burden of impacts in terms of both the number and intensity of impacts. This is the first empirical study using propensity score matching to assess the incremental impacts of online gambling by separating pure and mixed gamblers and to compare them to offline gamblers.

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