A profile of internet poker players and their gambling

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McKeon, Robert
Issue Date
MA in Addiction Studies
Dublin Business School
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Poker has recently had a huge surge in popularity, particularly among young people. A consequence of this has been that literally millions of people have been gambling on poker on the Internet. Despite reports from treatment providers and the media about players becoming dangerously addicted to it there have been no published academic reports on Internet poker players. This study is a first attempt to produce a profile of Internet poker players, to assess the extent of problem playing among them, and to explore the risk factors and consequences of problem playing. A sample of 945 Internet poker players, recruited using online methods, completed a comprehensive questionnaire which was newly created for this study and administered via the Internet. The questionnaire addressed demographic variables, Internet poker playing behaviour and attitudes, cognate behaviours, and contained both the Canadian Problem Gambling Index (CPGI; Ferris & Wynne, 2001) adapted for Internet poker and the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS; Lesieur & Blume, 1987). The profile which emerged was one of young, White, male, well educated players who played regularly and for long periods without suffering financially, and who engaged in little other gambling activity. However, over half of the participants were classified as being problem gamblers in relation to their Internet poker playing according to the CPGI. Regression analysis of predictor variables and problem gambling produced a model with a Nagelkerke R square score of .242 and contained 10 variables. Playing to forget problems, playing to relieve loneliness / isolation, past year use of cocaine, and past year use of ‘other’ substances were the most reliable predictors of problem gambling. Safeguards and treatment options are discussed.