How dangerous is online casino?

Alex (Casino-Okay.com)
December 31, 2019
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When one hears the word gambling, one always immediately thinks of gambling addiction. This is because for many decades now it has been obligatory for providers of games of chance to point out that games of chance have an inherent potential for addiction. In this article, we at Casino-Okay will discuss what risks there are in casino gambling and what countermeasures online casinos implement. And generally discuss the question: how dangerous is online casino?

Irrational behaviour in gambling

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Fundamentally, all gambling is irrational. For one always knows that one is at a statistical disadvantage as a gambler. The casino or “the bank” always has the house advantage. In other words, all games have a small built-in advantage in favour of the casino. Accordingly, it is always irrational to participate in a game of chance.

However, the games of chance organised in casinos are still downright generous in comparison to the classic lotto as far as the chances of winning and payout odds are concerned. In the classic 6 out of 49 lotto, 98% of participants leave the game week after week with a total loss (Petry, J. (2003) – Glücksspielsucht: Entstehung, Diagnostik und Behandlung. Hogrefe Verlag).

The reason for this is the fundamentally very low chance of landing in one of the first prize categories. This is because the chance of winning the lottery is only 1 in 14 million. In addition, there is a very modest payout rate of only 50%. (Tolkemitt (2002) – Tolkemitt, T.). The German Gambling Industry. An economic analysis with legal policy conclusions. Frankfurt a. M.: Lang). 

This means that only about half of the stakes are paid out again to the players in the form of winnings.

Gambling should primarily serve the purpose of entertainment. Therefore, from this point of view, one can live with the house advantage. Nevertheless, some players get carried away to place higher and higher stakes. This is usually in an attempt not to leave the casino without winning. But where does this behaviour come from? The answer to this has to do with the human psyche and is hidden behind an avoidance of losses – in short: loss aversion.

Gambling and loss aversion

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Gambling always works on the same principle. You bet an amount that you lose if you lose and multiply if you win. However, this rather simple operating principle has a lot going for it. For by winning amounts of money, happiness hormones are released in the body (Mörsen et all, 2011 – SUCHT (2011), 57, pp. 259-273. https://doi.org/10.1024/0939-5911.a000121. © 2011 Hogrefe AG.).

This alone already ensures a certain addictiveness. Now, in gambling, there is also the aggravating factor that in the event of a loss, there is a strong sense of disappointment. Interestingly, studies have found that losing a sum of money while gambling produces a significantly worse feeling than winning the same sum produces a positive feeling (Schläpfer, Fichter, 2018 – Finanzpsychologie. In: Fichter C. (eds) Business psychology for undergraduates. Springer textbook. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. Quelle: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-662-54944-5_10).

This means that if your mood is basically at 100% and you win 50GBP gambling, your mood may get to 150% as a result. However, if you lose this 50GBP, your mood will not drop by the same 50%. But by the full 100%. In other words: Normal condition = 100% well-being. Gain = 150% well-being/joy. Loss = 0% happiness/well-being. This phenomenon is called loss aversion. That is, the rejection or aversion (from Latin aversatio = aversion) of losses (Romanczuk-Seiferth, 2015 -Romanczuk-Seiferth, N. (2015). Pathological gambling: therapeutic implications of a nPoundsbiological perspective. Addiction Therapy, 16(S 01), S_02_02).

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Just this mixture of a positive feeling that one would like to have back often. And on the other hand, a terribly bad feeling when you lose, creates the addiction factor and the problem. Just as with practically all other addictions, gambling addiction does not develop overnight. Rather, it is a gradual process. This is usually divided into three different stages.

Let’s take a look at each stage below:

The initial stage

The first phase of a gambling addiction is often called the winning phase. This is characterised by the fact that initially positive and often euphoric experiences can be made with gambling. One considers oneself lucky or attributes one’s successes to a certain strategy. Through this, one begins to develop a passion for gambling. If one loses money, one does not stop gambling, but continues to gamble in order to compensate for the losses with winnings.

So, if you frequently exceed your actual set budget for gambling, and try to make up for losses and the negative emotions they create by depositing again and continuing to gamble, you should already be cautious.

The losing phase

The loss phase is defined by habituation. Players who are in this phase spend more and more time gambling. Both stakes and the willingness to take risks increase. This naturally results in a higher risk of losses, which sooner or later naturally occur. Just as in the first stage, the gambler tries to compensate for the negative emotions caused by the loss aversion by continuing to gamble.

Life begins to align itself with gambling. People socialise with other gamblers and see the world of gambling or time spent at the machine as a way to escape the real world. Friendships and family contacts, which were previously cultivated in the rain, are increasingly neglected. The performance in the normal job and life also decrease more and more. Thoughts begin to revolve around gambling.

As gambling is perceived as an alternative world and escape, many gamblers immerse themselves even further in gambling because of the problems caused by that very gambling. Outwardly, losses and problems caused by gambling are trivialised and talked down. However, the gambler still has control over his gambling when he admits to himself that he is in the habituation phase and is about to develop a real problem with gambling addiction.

Do you notice that your thoughts increasingly revolve around gambling? That your stakes have become higher? And that even if you lose more, you don’t want to stop until you at least get back out to zero? Tell yourself that it is no problem for you to stop gambling for weeks at a time. And do so under certain circumstances. Only to start gambling again immediately after this period has expired? Then it would be appropriate to seek professional help. Be honest with yourself. With therapy, the next and worst stage can still be successfully prevented.

The addiction stage

In the third and final stage of gambling addiction, the gambler has already completely lost control of his game. All money that is made available is gambled away. Gambling becomes the all-dominant thought and the life of the gambling addict revolves exclusively around it.

In order to continue gambling and hide the shame of one’s addiction, family, friends and acquaintances are deceived and lied to about the gambling addict’s gambling behaviour. Players who are in the addiction phase no longer have the possibility to interrupt their gambling. Not even if it is a short interruption of a few weeks.

The gambling addicts find themselves in a vicious circle. On the one hand, they are aware that their gambling has become problematic. And on the other hand, they are addicted to gambling. This leads to feelings of guilt, blame from outside and a feeling of helplessness. By neglecting the other areas of life, gambling addicts often also do not have the financial means available that they would like to have. And so borrowed and misappropriated (even stolen) money is also used to satisfy the gambling addiction.

Gamblers who are in this phase of gambling addiction often struggle with suicidal thoughts and urgently need outside help. In this phase, gambling no longer has anything to do with euphoria or feelings of happiness, but has become a burden and a burden (Sucht Hamburg, 2019 – Automatisch Verloren, Sucht Hamburg – Source: https://www.automatisch-verloren.de/de/gluecksspielsucht/verlauf-einer-spielsucht.html).

Are we all addicted in the online casino?

Of course not everyone gets addicted (Usner, 2008 – On the economics of gambling and gambling addiction control. Diploma thesis, University of Vienna. Faculty of Economics; https://othes.univie.ac.at/568/1/03-12-2008_0052708.pdf). Neither in land-based casinos, nor in online casinos.

  • Despite this, online casinos carry a special risk. First of all, you play in an online casino without social control. That is, there are no croupiers or spouses to complain if the gambling gets out of hand.
  • Then, of course, an online casino is available around the clock.
  • At the same time, an online casino also eliminates the need to arrive and depart, since you can enter it at any time from any room within your own home.

However, it must also be mentioned at this point that licensed and reputable online casinos, have an obligation to ensure that problem gambling is detected.

On the one hand, this is mandated by state authorities. But for another, it is also more profitable for online casinos if players do not become addicted to gambling. After all, one earns more with a player who plays in the casino for many decades than with one who blows a lot of money on his head within a short period of time and subsequently will never gamble again due to therapy.

Online casinos therefore regularly check the gambling behaviour of players. Should they notice that players are increasingly falling into the problematic behaviour patterns listed above, they contact the players and offer help.

In addition, many online casinos also offer the possibility to voluntarily block oneself. This can be done either within a predefined time frame or completely. The problem is, however, that you can of course register with another online casino at any time if you decide otherwise. A central blackout register, as exists for land-based casinos, does not exist for online casinos at present.

In addition, online casinos also regularly display warning messages informing a player how long they have been playing casino online.

All these options, can at least mitigate the risk of inadvertently falling into a gambling addiction. Just as with any other addictive substance, not everyone becomes addicted to gambling, of course. The majority of gamblers have their gambling under control and are not in danger of becoming addicted. However, it is all the more important that those who have plans get competent help in time. If this is the case for you, you can get quick help on this website.

Author Alex (Casino-Okay.com)

Alex is editor of the Glücksspiel und Online Casino Kompendium, a widely quoted book on the topic of online gambling. He possesses many years of experience in the online gambling industry. His passion for online casinos is evident in the extensive testing he does, combining his enjoyment of the exciting thrill of online casinos with his interest in sharing 100% objective experiences with readers. To date, he is still an enthusiastic player in online casinos and is annoyed by every player who ends up in a dubious casino. That's why he wants to make sure that readers are spared this at Casino-Okay.com.

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