Internet gambling and risk-taking among students: An exploratory study


Background and aims: Internet gambling is undergoing a massive worldwide expansion. The relationship between the convenience, anonymity, and the 24-hour availability of Internet gambling and problem gambling in young people presents a serious concern. This study explored general gambling behavior, including Internet gambling (with and without money), problem gambling, and risk-approach motivation in a sample of university students aged 18 to 20 years. Methods: University undergraduates (N = 465) in two urban universities completed in-class paper-and-pencil questionnaires concerning Internet gambling, risk taking, and a checklist of the DSM-IV criteria for problem gambling. Results: Overall, 8.0% of participants reported past-year gambling for money on the Internet, with significantly higher rates among males (11.8%) than females (0.6%). Based on DSM-IV criteria, 3.7% of respondents were classified as problem gamblers (i.e., endorsed 3 or more items). There were higher rates of problem gambling among those who had gambled on the Internet, and students who had gambled on the Internet had higher risk-approach scores. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that students who have gambled on the Internet have greater risk-taking motivation than students who have not gambled online, and those classified as problem gamblers have greater risk-taking motivation than non-gamblers. Results also suggest both higher risk taking scores and classification as a high risk-taker predict online gambling. Gambling on the Internet may be harmful for some individuals; young males, those with high risk-approach motivation, and, most certainly, those already exhibiting problem gambling behaviors.

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