Internet gambling in canada prevalence patterns and land based comparisons
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Internet Gambling in Canada: Prevalence, Patterns, and Land-Based Comparisons. Dr. Robert Wood (presenter) Dr. Robert Williams (co-researcher) University of Lethbridge. Pilot Study. Present study builds upon a 2004 pilot study, funded by the Alberta Gaming Research Institute.

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Internet Gambling in Canada: Prevalence, Patterns, and Land-Based Comparisons

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Internet Gambling in Canada:Prevalence, Patterns, and Land-Based Comparisons

Dr. Robert Wood(presenter)

Dr. Robert Williams(co-researcher)

University of Lethbridge


Pilot Study

  • Present study builds upon a 2004 pilot study, funded by the Alberta Gaming Research Institute.

  • Non-random sample of 1920 Internet gamblers recruited at Internet gambling portals, using banner advertisements.

  • Survey assessed demographic characteristics, problem gambling status (CPGI), online gaming behavior, and general Internet activity.


Pilot Study

  • High incidence of problem gambling.

    • 42.7% either moderate (22.6%) or severe (20.1%) problem gamblers, according to the CPGI criteria.

  • Particular characteristics predictive (using logistic regression) of problem Internet gambling.

    • Time spent gambling / Male gender / African ancestry / South and East Asian ancestry / Preference for Internet gambling over land-based gambling.

  • Reasons for preferring Internet gambling were primarily related to convenience, comfort, and ease (compared to land-based gambling).


Pilot Study

  • Pilot study confirmed that online sampling techniques are effective for generating a sufficiently large sample of Internet gamblers.

  • However, given the low follow-through rates of banner advertising, it is probable that self-selected online samples are systematically biased.

  • Random sampling techniques, such as random digit dialing (RDD) , can yield relatively representative samples .

  • However, given the very low prevalence rate of Internet gambling in Canada, RDD studies can be prohibitively lengthy and costly.


Current Study

  • Funded by a three-year grant from the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre.

    • Random digit dial survey of Canadian adults.

      • Managed by Institute for Social Research, at York University.

      • Adults surveyed from all 10 provinces.

      • Response rate of 46% (completions over eligible numbers, times 100).

      • N = 8,496.

      • 71.2% Gamblers.

      • 3.21% Internet gamblers (N = 273).

    • Online, self-selected survey of gamblers.

      • Survey hosted at www.gamblinginformation.org, in seven languages.

      • Banner ad-links placed at www.casinocity.com gambling portal.

      • 2 million exposures, over 5 months.

      • N = 12,524.

      • 44% Internet gamblers (N = 5,511).


Current Study

  • Questionnaires asked about:

    • Land-based gambling activity (i.e. time, expenditure, game preference)

    • Internet gambling activity

    • Stock market speculation

    • Definitions of gambling (i.e. which activities constitute gambling)

    • Gambling attitudes (i.e. morality, legality, social harm)

    • Gambling knowledge and beliefs (i.e. fallacies, knowledge of odds)

    • Problem gambling (CPGI, SOGS, NODS)

  • Online questionnaire provided additional interactive feedback:

    • Graph comparisons to other gamblers, regarding gambling attitudes, knowledge / beliefs, propensity for problem gambling, and projected expenditures.

    • Online treatment resources for problem gamblers.


Current Study

  • Data analysis is in the very early stages for the RDD survey.

  • Data cleaning is still underway for the online survey.

  • Today’s presentation is based on data from the RDD survey only.


Comparative Characteristics


Comparative Characteristics


Comparative Characteristics


Comparative Characteristics


Comparative Problem Gambling Status (CPGI)


Online Gambling Patterns


Online Gambling Patterns


Online Gambling Patterns


Online Gambling Patterns


Online Gambling Patterns


To be continued….

  • To what extent do Internet gamblers systematically differ, demographically, from land-based gamblers?

  • Why do Internet gamblers consistently show a greater propensity for problem gambling, compared to land-based gamblers?

  • What characteristics and patterns of play are predictive of problem Internet gambling?

  • Does problem Internet gambling require a unique approach to prevention and treatment?


To be continued…

  • To what extent do Internet gambling rates, and rates of problem Internet gambling, differ cross culturally?

  • In what ways is the online gambling experience qualitatively different than the land-based experience (sensually, socially, and psychologically)?

  • Would the legalization and government regulation of Internet gambling in Canada serve the “greater good?”

  • What is the most appropriate policy position (with respect to legality, regulation, access) for Internet gambling in Canada?


Recent Relevant Publications

Wood, Robert T. and Robert J. Williams. (2007). “Problem Gambling on the Internet: Implications for Internet Gambling Policy in North America.” New Media & Society, 9(3):169-191.

Wood, Robert T, Robert J. Williams, Paul K. Lawton. (2007). “Why Do Internet Gamblers Prefer Online Versus Land-Based Venues? Some Preliminary Findings and Implications.” Journal of Gambling Issues, 20: 235-252.

Wood, Robert T. & Robert J. Williams (2007). "Internet Gambling: Past, Present, and Future." In Gary Smith, David Hodgins & Robert Williams (eds.), Research and Measurement Issues in Gambling Studies (pp. 491-514). Toronto: Elsevier Publishing.


Dr. Robert Wood

Department of Sociology

Phone: (403) 329-5137

Email: [email protected]

Dr. Robert Williams

School of Health Sciences

Phone: (403) 382-7128

Email: [email protected]

Researcher Contact Info:

University of Lethbridge

4401 University Drive

Lethbridge, AB

T1K 3M4, Canada


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