Pajama Gamblers

Digital image of woman s face on laptop screen uid 1278928 Pajama gamblers could lose their shirts: Online gambling can be dangerously comfortable

People who gamble from the comfort of their home tend to think they’re more in control of their gambling than people who gamble in casinos, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Authors June Cotte (University of Western Ontario) and Kathryn A. Latour (University of Nevada-Las Vegas) found surprisingly little previous research on their subject: the habits and motivations of online gamblers, who contribute to a $10 billion a year industry.

Their study found that, unlike casino gamblers, who seek thrills and social experiences, online gamblers seek the anonymity their home computers provide. "For casino gamblers, gambling provides a perceived social connection with unknown others in a sense of shared fates and temporary community. Online gamblers, on the contrary, perceive a lack of social connections in the online realm."

The researchers conducted a study of 30 Las Vegas gamblers. Ten were online gamblers and 20 were casino gamblers, and all considered themselves to be regular gamblers. The study involved in-depth interviews using visual images and collages created by the participants.

In the course of the study, the authors found significant differences in perceptions and attitudes between people who gamble in casinos and people who gamble on their home computers. Because sensations are not as intense in online gambling, online gamblers tend to play for longer amounts of time, and they think they’re more in control of their gambling, the authors found.

The authors believe that regulating online gambling may remove the excitement of doing something illicit.

"When gambling consumption moves into the home, gambling behavior becomes a part of everyday living. When not seen as reserved solely as behavior for an outing, gambling is more likely to become an insidiously integrated component of a consumer’s life," the authors conclude.

Research report; June Cotte and Kathryn A. Latour. "Blackjack in the Kitchen: Understanding Online Versus Casino Gambling" Journal of Consumer Research: February 2009.

See also;

Internet Addiction


Internet addiction Internet addiction appears to be a common disorder, that involves online and/or offline computer usage and consists of at least three subtypes:

  • excessive gaming,
  • sexual preoccupations, and
  • e-mail/text messaging.

The American Journal of Psychiatry reported in March 2008 that all of the variants of this problem share the following four components:

  • excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives,
  • withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible,
  • tolerance, including the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use, and
  • negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue.

Using data from 2006, the South Korean government estimates that approximately 2.1% of South Korean children ages 6–19 are afflicted and require treatment.

About 80% of those needing treatment may need antidepressants / anti-anxiety medications, and perhaps 20% to 24% require hospitalization.

Since the average South Korean high school student spends about 23 hours each week gaming, another 1.2 million are believed to be at risk for addiction and to require basic counseling.

In particular, therapists worry about the increasing number of individuals dropping out from school or work to spend time on computers.

As of June 2007, South Korea has trained 1,043 counselors in the treatment of Internet addiction and enlisted over 190 hospitals and treatment centers. Preventive measures are now being introduced into schools.

China is also greatly concerned about the disorder. At a recent conference, Tao Ran, Ph.D., Director of Addiction Medicine at Beijing Military Region Central Hospital, reported 13.7% of Chinese adolescent Internet users meet Internet addiction diagnostic criteria—about 10 million teenagers.

As a result, in 2007 China began restricting computer game use; current laws now discourage more than 3 hours of daily game use.

In the United States, accurate estimates of the prevalence of the disorder are lacking. Unlike in Asia, where Internet cafés are frequently used, in the United States games and virtual sex are accessed from the home.

Attempts to measure the phenomenon are clouded by

  • shame,
  • denial, and
  • minimization.

The issue is further complicated by other mental conditions. About 86% of Internet addiction cases have some other mental or medical health issue.

Despite the cultural differences, western case descriptions are remarkably similar to those of our Asian colleagues, and we appear to be dealing with the same issue.

Unfortunately, Internet addiction is resistant to treatment, entails significant risks, and has high relapse rates. Moreover, it also makes other medical disorders less responsive to therapy.

Research reference; Am J Psychiatry 165:306-307, March 2008

See also;

Internet Gaming: A Hidden Addiction

Here is a scenario you may have seen in your office:

  • a teenager or young adult, usually male, who is suddenly failing at life.
  • He may be having anger problems, personality changes, and sleep or appetite changes.
  • He may have gotten good grades in school and is now failing all of his classes.
  • He is not “running with a bad crowd”; in fact, he is not running with any crowd.
  • He is usually home, playing on his computer.
  • He says he is fine and denies feeling depressed.
  • Drug tests come back negative.
  • You may have prescribed antidepressants or stimulants empirically for depression or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, but there has been no response.
  • This patient does not act like anything you have seen before.

This young man may very well be obsessively playing a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

Full story at; American Academy of Family Physicians

See also; On-Line Gamers Anonymous