The American Psychiatric Association guidelines for diagnosing a gambling addiction doesn’t distinguish between placing bets in a physical location like a casino or race track and over the internet. That being stated, aspects of online gambling make it potentially more addictive and therefore, harder to recover from. Online gambling is available 24/7 via computer or mobile device, anywhere there’s an internet connection.
Internet anonymity makes it easier to avoid traditional barriers to participation. This has resulted in a new generation of problem gamblers: teens and young adults, particularly young men. In private, players can easily consume drugs or excessive alcohol which can increase the amount of time spent gambling and money wagered. Easy access to online bank and credit card accounts and around-the-clock lending sites increase the likelihood of impulse betting and chasing losses. Even when online gambling sites have policies restricting access, their ability to enforce them is often unclear.
Recovery from an online gambling addiction involves a strategy specifically tailored to the individual. A combination of treatments for traditional gambling addiction and for internet addiction seems to work best. Cognitive-behavioral therapy to recognize patterns and modify habits is often employed in the treatment of compulsive behaviors and is useful here as well. As a recovering online gambler addresses the thoughts and feelings behind the compulsion, makes healthier choices, and builds a good support network, resisting urges begins to come natural for them.