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Canada Pursues Studies in Internet Gambling

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor

              The struggle to regulate internet casino gambling has expanded to Canada. June Cotte has demanded that internet gaming be legalized after intensive research on the effects of online casinos. The study that she and Kathryn A. Latour completed called “Blackjack in the Kitchen: Understanding Online Versus Casino Gambling,” is due to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research late next year. Cotte, a marketing associate professor at the Richard Ivery School of Business feels that the regulation of eGaming could reduce the potentially harmful effects of gambling.

                According to CNW, Cotte and Latour (University of Nevada) interviewed 20 frequent land casino gamblers and 10 frequent online casino gamblers, using images as a trigger in order to determine how gambling is received by gamers. Because online gaming is more accessible and sometimes becomes a part of one’s daily ritual, and land casinos require travel, the study shows that online gamblers play more often and more aggressively than land gamblers.

                “Our potential solution is to allow legitimate corporate sponsors, like the corporations that run the major casinos in Las Vegas or the government sponsors in Canada, to enter into a newly regulated market for online gambling,” said Cotte, “Just as legalized commercial gambling in casinos allows governments to regulate it, so, too, could the legislation of online gambling allow for better regulation and attempts to reduce the growth of problem gamblers.”

                Additionally, Cotte stated that although online gambling is not permitted by U.S. or Canadian law, residents can still easily access offshore gaming sites. The study shows that over $10 billion is spent by worldwide online gamblers per year. She and her colleague feel that if online gaming were put under the same scrutiny and regulation as land casinos, the counts of problem gambling may decrease.

Cotte and Latour have made several suggestions for means of regulating online gaming. The team would like to see a more efficient system to check age requirements used by internet gaming sites. They also feel that online casinos should monitor new clientele for a history of pathological gambling, make financial limitations on online gamblers, and provide pop up gambling treatment advertisements and an available gambling counselor. The duo has also suggested mandatory “cooling-off” periods that would prohibit gamers that spend and excessive amount of time and money from accessing their account for a short time. They have recommended that records of wins and losses per user be kept. Furthermore, they feel that bold and flashing graphics that show a user has won should no longer be used, in order to reduce the “emotional experience” for gamblers.

                “The unregulated online environment results in a more chaotic environment with no clear social norms and rules, “ Cotte said, “The meaning of gambling changes, moving from a shared conviviality available in the casino to a no-holds-barred battle online. It brings out the gamblers’ more competitive side.”

                Because Canadian law is frequently more liberal than that of the U.S., it is possible that this study may open a door for Canadian gaming regulation in the future.