Is Smart Phone Gambling Smart?

Is Smart Phone Gambling Smart?

Most people with smart phones are thrilled with the slick packaging and full range of features they offer, but for one demographic easy access to online gambling is proving to be problematic. Online gambling via mobile device is still prohibited in the United States but in other countries it is legal.

Women and Gambling

Reports out of Scotland are that women are particularly vulnerable to racking up debt through gaming on their handheld device. An addiction charity by the name of The RCA Trust states that in Scotland there has been a 15% increase in women running up debt through internet gambling.

The report said that the figure included women of all ages but that indebtedness as a result of online games such as bingo and poker was becoming a major issue. The Trust said that it had been contacted by over 200 women within the past year who reported addictive online gambling habits and thousands of pounds of debt. That number likely represents a much larger number of unreported problem gamblers.

Young women with 24-hour access to Internet gaming via smart phone are included in the statistic, but so are older women. Perhaps particularly vulnerable to the costly habit are older women who have been stuck at home because they are no longer physically able to get out socially or women living in remote areas who feel isolated.

Gambling venues, such as online bingo, make concerted efforts to attract women players by supporting charities and women’s health issues. Combine loneliness with marketing campaigns directed toward women and the uptick in online gaming among women is not so surprising.

A Growing Concern

Juniper Research published a white paper that supports the concerns expressed by The RCA Trust. In their paper, Juniper Research predicts $48 billion will be spent on Internet betting by the year 2015. The research group reports that over two million sports fans across Europe already use their handheld devices to make online wagers.

Mobile lotteries are currently in place in Britain, China, Latin America, and Africa. Mobile gambling is still prohibited by federal law in the United States but that could soon change. Senator Barney Frank of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that, if passed, would remove current barriers to online wagering. State lotteries are currently experiencing a lull in over-the-counter sales and it may be that legislators hope to reinvigorate sales by making remote sales available. Not surprisingly, casinos with a physical presence are opposed to such a move.

The ability to quickly and easily run up large debts via mobile devices merits full consideration. Some estimate that already 10% of gamblers in the U.S. have an addiction to the activity.

Physical gaming venues usually attract the attention of concerned friends and family or, at the very least, a measure of restraint from fellow players. By contrast, gambling at venues like online poker and bingo is addictive and accessing those sites via a smart phone means that the addiction can be secretive as well.

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