Consumer Research Advises Legalization in Canada and U.S.

16 July 2008

A new research study finds that online gambling has the potential to become more habitual than casino gambling. The study suggests that Canada and the U.S. should legalize online gambling in order to better regulate it and reduce the potentially harmful effects.

"The unregulated online environment results in a more chaotic environment with no clear social norms and rules," said June Cotte, a marketing professor with the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario who led the study. "The meaning of gambling changes, moving from a shared conviviality available in the casino to a no-holds-barred battle online. It brings out the gamblers' more competitive side.

"When not seen as reserved solely as behavior for an outing or a special occasion, gambling is more likely to become a pernicious, insidiously integrated component of a consumer's life."

Conducted in conjunction with Kathryn A Latour of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, "Blackjack in the Kitchen: Understanding Online Versus Casino Gambling," will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research in the winter of 2009.

Cotte and Latour make a number of suggestions about strategies that could be tied to a regulatory regime for online gambling including cross-checking new users with lists of pathological gamblers, setting financial limits, and mandatory cooling off periods.