For the vast majority of gamblers, the opportunity to play anywhere and anytime on their smartphones has meant a far more enjoyable and convenient gaming experiences. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the experience of every player.
For some of those prone to addiction, access to mobile gambling can lead to destructive behaviour as greater access to means to gamble feeds their addiction around the clock. Our question is, however, is mobile gambling really that much more addictive than land-based or desktop gambling, or is it simply more visible for some reason?
There’s worrying statistics out this week from the National Centre for Problem Gambling, which has seen a rise in the proportion of patients reporting to doctors with problems surrounding gambling addiction. The headline is that now over half of those reaching out for help from the organisation reported that they had recently placed a bet on a smartphone or other mobile device – a big rise since 20015.
With 762 patients across England and Wales seeking help for gambling addiction on their mobiles, it’s clear that the problem is real and growing. With mobile gambling offering unprecedented opportunities for players to access gambling sites round the clock from wherever they happen to be, this form of addiction is clearly a worrying and insidious one.
While any rise in addiction is of course alarming, and something that must be addressed both culturally and governmentally, there may be a couple of other factors to bear in mind that suggest mobile gambling might not actually be innately more damaging than other forms of gambling.
Firstly, it’s worth considering the numbers; if a gambling addiction charity is finding that half of those coming to them for help have become addicted to mobile gambling, perhaps we should consider that in the last year alone, the proportion of those gambling on their mobile verses other devices has risen by 10% to 42% (or nearly half anyway). This shift may simply suggest that the same proportion of people are addicted to gambling, but simply gamble in a different way.
Secondly, the new data certainly shows that a higher proportion of players who are addicted are using their mobiles to gamble at least some of the time, but there’s currently no evidence to suggest that this is the main way they are choosing to gamble, or indeed that they are becoming addicted which using mobile gambling sites.
If you or someone you care about is affected by problem gambling, there’s a number of places you can turn for help. You might try GamCare – an organisation set up to help raise awareness of gambling addiction and support those affected – or Gamblers Anonymous – a support group for problem gamblers. Right now you might want to read up more information at our Responsible Gambling pages.