NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Internet Accountability: Responsible Gaming in Cyberspace

In October, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The law aims to choke off financial transactions related to online gambling in order to prevent Americans from gambling over the Internet. The new legislation and the discussion that have sprung up around it raise a number of legal, economic and political questions, including questions about connections between online gambling and addiction.

On the Monday of the 7th Annual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction, the session Internet Accountability: Responsible Gaming in Cyberspace will examine the conventional wisdom that asserts online gambling poses a public health risk. Concerns have been raised about people who gamble alone in their homes without the social controls of other types of gambling; the allure of Internet gambling for young people; and the speed of play associated with online gambling. In fact, Rep. Robert Goodlatte has claimed that all of the risks of gambling are magnified on the Web: “There are family problems, bankruptcy problems, gambling addiction, gambling by minors…It does not help our society.”

Until now, there has been only sparse empirical research to examine these concerns. During this session at the NCRG conference, Dr. Richard LaBrie of Harvard Medical School will report on a new study of the gambling patterns of more than 40,000 sports gambling customers of bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, an online gambling company based in Vienna, Austria. It is the first study of its kind, and should shed new light onto how we view online gambling and online gamblers. Joining him on the panel will be Wolfgang Schwens, corporate social responsibility manager for bwin, who will discuss the company’s responsible gaming measures, including self-limit programs and an online self-help guide for customers worried about their gambling. Schwens also will address the challenges of implementing responsible gaming programs online and how bwin is evaluating the effectiveness of the programs it has implemented.


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