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Online gambling

Online gambling games are full of pitfalls. It is quite easy to play multiple games and often among online gamblers there is a tendency to bet more and take more risks. To be aware of the pitfalls resulting from online gambling games, helps limit their aftermath.

Pitfall #1: A very attractive return rate during trial period

Some gambling sites take advantage of a lack of global legislation to attract people through questionable practices. For instance, during the trial period, which does not include money bets, some sites offer more advantageous return rates, making gamblers believe they can earn more. Once registered on the site, gamblers who are now betting real money will start, however, accumulating losses.

The return rate is what a gambler can expect as a long term money return. A 92% return rate implies that for every $100 wagered, the gambler can expect to retrieve only 92% of this amount, which is $92. In other words, a 92% return rate allows the gambler to expect losing 8% of his money in the long run. It is sometimes confusing to use the term return rate, the expression “negative expected payoff” is closer to the reality. In this case, instead of speaking of a 92% return rate, one would refer to a negative expected payoff of 8%: on each $100 wagered, the gambler expects to lose $8. To keep making profits, gambling games often offer a return rate lower than 100%. No site can offer return rates higher than 100%, they would otherwise lose money. So using higher return rates for a trial period is part of an incentive strategy to encourage potential players in betting real money.

Pitfall #2: Free credits: beware of the minimum number of games to play!

Some sites offer free credits when the gambler opens an account to play for real money. However, the use of these credits comes with special rules. One of these rules states that the sites will not pay the gains if the player does not play a minimum of parts or minimum money with the credits received. By doing so, these sites reduce the player’s chances to win, as the return rate always applies on the long term.

Pitfall #3: the Internet sometimes fuels irrational beliefs linked to gambling…

Some sites use good results obtained during trial games to encourage gamblers to use these skills in real games (“Challenge your skill with real money”). Many sites also use “Pop-up”-style windows to bring the gambler to bet real money. Moreover, once registered on a practice site, the player receives various emails fostering irrational beliefs or illusion of control: “Practice really does make perfect”, “You are one of our smartest fun players”, and “Based on your playing skills…” We sure know that most of gambling games do not require particular skills. However, many gambling websites encourage the development or maintenance of irrational beliefs among gamblers and increase their risks of developing a problem.

Pitfall #4: the internet can increase risk of gambling addiction

  • The ability to play anywhere anytime can increase gambling addiction;
  • Online gamblers are not in contact with staff trained in responsible gaming that could help them monitor their gaming habits;
  • Online gambling is less regulated than other gambling resources available elsewhere (casinos, playrooms, etc.)
  • Online gamblers are exposed to measures far from promoting healthy and responsible gaming, which promote the use of credit cards instead.

Pitfall #5: Watch out for easy access!

As the Internet is accessible 24 hours, 7 days, it is quite easy to get caught up in it. No need to go outside or get around to bet money, as all this can be done in the comfort of your own home. It has become so easy that risks of playing more often, more money and much longer are higher.

Pitfall #6: Beware of virtual-induced feelings

Virtual reality sometimes “disconnects” the player from the reality and time that is running out. Due to the interactive nature of the virtual, the player can develop a completely false sense of control. Moreover, playing away from sometimes critical sights of relatives around makes a way for excess.

Pitfall #7: Beware of ads and game speed!

Both gains and losses occur very quickly on the Internet. And we know there is a significant risk factor when a player is able to bet, secure a gain and quickly put it at stake again. Furthermore, ads on the Internet sometimes make the player believe that he has more control on the game than he actually does in reality. Some of these promotion strategies even value the player into believing that he is part of a category of very intelligent and talented players. 

In conclusion: if you choose to play online, make sure you also set time, money and frequency limits, and more than anything respect them!


Pitfalls 1, 2 and 3 are from the same study: Sévigny, S., Cloutier, M., Pelletier, M.-F., et Ladouceur, R. (2005). Internet gambling: misleading payout rates during the “demo” period. Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 21, Issue 1, Pages 153-158

Games and betting on mobile internet «m-gambling» (2012). Condensed version of scientific writings published since 2000 on mobile phone gambling, commonly known as «m-gambling». CLIPP and Mise sur toi.

Pitfall 5, 6 and 7 are from Le Jeu en ligne : savoir pour choisir (brochure produite par Mise sur toi en collaboration avec Madame Sylvia Kairouz et Madame Tsvetelina Mihaylova) 


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