There is no opinion, however extreme, that you cannot find online. The trouble is, if enough people keep repeating the same extreme opinion, it somehow sidles into the world as a semi-fact, and then becomes the received wisdom. This applies to politics, world history, economic policies, and all of the entertainment industry’s most quotable anecdotes.
It also applies to the world of gambling; be it casinos, lotteries or sports betting. There are lots of myths related to the dark consequences of online gambling: some of them hangovers from prejudices against land-based casinos, and some brand-new ones born out of sundry internet-related paranoia’s.
They’re usually spread by people who have a moral objection to gambling, as an attempt to present a personal prejudice in the guise of being for casino fans’ own good. Burrow a little into the evidence, however, and the supposed evil consequences of online gambling aren’t quite as clear-cut. Here are three top myths, busted:
Online Gambling is Illegal
The default position of many critics is that if casino games or sports betting is illegal at land-based sites in a country, or if the country does not allow any online sites to be licensed in its jurisdiction, then gambling online must be illegal.
This is not the case: in most countries where either or both of these conditions apply, there is no statute on the law books that actually makes gambling online illegal. It is difficult to prosecute online casino and betting enthusiasts, as there is no law to accuse them of breaking.
However, this is a legal grey area that many states are now addressing by closing these legal loopholes. Nevertheless, many states do allow both land-based and online gambling, while some allow players to gamble online only at sites licensed in their jurisdiction.
Others do the opposite; to protect their land-based casinos, players can gamble only at online sites registered in other countries. It’s up to players to check the local laws, before they access online gambling sites.
Online Gambling is Easy for Kids
Um… no. Just, no. To use the USA as an example, getting a fake ID for access to gambling (and alcohol) at a land-based casino is a lot easier than the credit checks, ID verification and other security measures used by reputable online gambling sites to vet players before they are allowed to bet. So online gambling is in fact accessible to fewer underage players.
Likewise, even in countries where gambling is banned, to access international online gambling sites, young people would have to use their parents’ IDs and credit card details, so it’s unlikely without either collusion or negligence on their parents’ part. That’s hardly the responsibility of online gambling sites.
All Scams and Problem Gambling
There’s a persistent myth that all online gambling sites are rigged scams; partitioned by the Internet, players never notice that nobody ever wins. This is nonsense: some of the most reputable names in land-based casinos and sports betting now have online sites, and if they were welshing on bets, the vocal and activist online gambling community would not be slow to broadcast the news.
Anti-gambling voices also claim that online gambling leads to an increase in problem gambling, but studies by Harvard and other academic institutions indicate that this is not the case. Gambling addiction is as serious as an addiction to anything that is supposed to be a fun diversion, but there is no evidence that online gambling increases the proportion of gamblers who fall into it.
If anything, online connectivity allows casinos and betting sites to track player behaviour more effectively than land-based operations, so that problem betting can be identified earlier.