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According to a recent article in The Atlantic, online gambling appears to be far less addicting than many folks may assume. Given the fact that online gambling is available around the clock and can be enjoyed from the comfort of one’s home, it seems logical to assume that it would be far more addicting than gambling in a brick-and-mortar casino. Incredibly, however, a major study by Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction has put that myth to rest by showing that the vast majority of online gamblers are able to show remarkable restraint.

Online gambling has been around for a while now, but in the scheme of things, it’s still relatively new and untested. Gambling addictions are not to be taken lightly, and most major casinos have toll-free help lines for people to call if they feel like they’re exhibiting problematic behavior. Since people don’t have to leave their homes to partake in online gambling, it stands to reason that its ever-increasing availability would make gambling addictions all the more rampant. Despite its easy availability, however, that doesn’t appear to be the case at all.

The Harvard study monitored the online gambling habits of more than 4,000 people, and it was conducted in conjunction with bwin, one of the largest European gambling websites. Researchers monitored these online gamblers over a period of about two years. The results of their research are startling indeed. Out of all of those online gamblers, only about 1 to 5 percent exhibited anything approaching intense gambling behavior. Intense behavior doesn’t necessarily even reflect addictive behavior, so this is an especially surprising revelation. For the vast majority of online gamblers, then, online gambling is just a fun pastime.

According to the report, the majority of online gamblers seem to have something of a take-it-or-leave-it outlook when it comes to using online gambling sites. Most of them use such sites infrequently or in moderation. The median betting frequency for the group over a period of nine months was just once every two weeks or so. Of course, this means that more than half of online gamblers visit such sites a lot more frequently. However, the other half visit them even less frequently, which suggests that online gambling may actually be less addicting than gambling in a brick-and-mortar casino.

Researchers also looked at overall trends in the world of gambling. In particular, they kept an eye on how attitudes and habits regarding gambling have changed or evolved since online casinos have become readily available. It appears that the increasing availability of online gambling has had a very mild impact on problematic gambling behavior as a whole. When online gambling first hit the scene, many were concerned that having easy access to online casinos would make gambling addictions even more pervasive. Happily enough, that doesn’t appear to have happened. Most folks are able to enjoy online gambling sites, play a few games and then walk away.

As noted in the Atlantic article, people appear to have acclimated to the increased availability of online gambling with incredible ease. Many view it as just another way to have some fun while at home on the computer. Of course, there are people out there who make actual livings on such sites, but their behavior isn’t necessarily addictive in nature. Without a doubt, though, those who do have addictions to online gambling face serious uphill battles. Fortunately, very few such individuals appear to be out there, so this doesn’t seem to be a major issue.

Why is it that online gambling isn’t as addicting as one would assume? As enticing as the games can be, and as easy as it is to load funds and to play for hours on end, it appears that the bright lights and excitement of brick-and-mortar casinos tend to have more powerful psychological impacts on those who visit them. At home, it appears to be easier for people to step away from their computers, whereas walking away at an actual casino may be more difficult. Whatever the reasons may be, this is great news for online casinos and online gambling sites, which continue to grow in popularity by the day.