The purpose of this research was to explore differences between online and land-based gamblers to determine whether differences in problem gambling risk factors could account for the higher rates of pathological gambling observed in online gamblers. The primary focus of study 1 was to investigate factors known to be associated with problem gambling severity to determine whether these variables are associated with Internet gambling. An additional focus was to investigate
whether online gamblers initiate and maintain their gambling through the Internet or whether they are land-based gamblers seeking a new forum. Three hundred and seventy four undergraduates completed an online questionnaire looking at demographic, cognitive, psychological, dispositional and medium related factors. The results of a logistic regression analysis revealed that online gamblers were less likely to be Caucasian, were more likely to engage in range of gambling activities and have more gambling-related cognitive distortions. The results of a hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that frequency of play and distorted gambling cognitions were independent predictors of problem gambling severity among Internet gamblers. The majority of online gamblers also wagered in land-based formats, with less than 3% reporting that their first gambling experience occurred online. The purpose of study 2
was to investigate the role of cognitions to determine whether online gamblers were distorting aspects of play. Two hundred and seventy eight poker players completed 75 hands of Texas Hold’em against an automated computer opponent. The results of study 2 revealed that Internet gamblers perceived themselves to be more skilled and exhibited higher levels of gambling related cognitive distortions when compared to non-Internet gamblers, despite showing no superiority in actual ability. Based on the findings, consideration should be given to the influence of the Internet on heavily involved gamblers. This study has implications for understanding howthe Internet influences gambling behaviour in order to effectively create appropriate prevention and treatment initiatives. This study also has implications for substantiating a psychosocial approach to online gambling to inform public policy decisions in the future.