Toward a paradigm shift in internet gambling research: From opinion and self-report to actual behavior


Internet gambling is one of the fastest growing gambling-related industries {(Christian} Capital Advisers 2006). As the Internet gambling industry expands, many stakeholders have created, or are in the process of creating, gambling-related policy. Policy makers promulgating these regulations rely on professional opinions and/or conventional wisdoms related to Internet gambling to guide them because of the lack of sufficient scientific research. There is an ongoing need for quality empirical research to guide the development of public policies that surround Internet gambling. This article summarizes the current state of scientific research about Internet gambling by identifying, describing, and critiquing the available peer-reviewed literature. To identify the peer-reviewed literature related to Internet gambling published between January 1, 1967 and March 7, 2008, we used the search term {"Internet} {[AND]} gambling" in the {PubMed} and {PsychINFO} search engines. Of the 111 articles identified by our systematic search, only 30 included Internet gambling as a focus. The study methods presented in the abstracts of these 30 articles indicate that none included actual gambling behavior: 10 provided self-reports of gambling behavior using samples not representative of the general population, and 20 of the 30 articles were commentaries. In response to the clarion call to improve the state of psychological research {(Baumeister} et al. 2007), we have conducted research utilizing actual Internet gambling behavior. In contrast to prior self-report and case study research, our investigations using actual Internet gambling behavior suggest an overall pattern of moderate Internet gambling behavior {(LaBrie} et al. 2007).

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