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    Boom of Internet Poker
    A Changed Game
    The Addiction
    Beating The Addiction
    Personal Reflections

Beating the Addiction

There is no easy solution when it comes to beating the addiction of online poker. Part of the beauty and greatness of the internet is that everyone has unbridled access to all the internet has to offer. Though the internet is only in its infancy, evidence is starting to surface that it can indeed lead to serious negative side effects. Because of online poker, thousands of lives (especially young lives) are being ruined. Society should not remain silent any longer—many things can be done to help beat the new wave of internet poker addiction.

Some people believe that the government should be responsible for preventing gambling on the internet, especially since the current stance of the government is that internet gaming is illegal. However, since the problem is so pervasive and since the constitutionality of preventing online gaming has not been tested in courts, governmental prevention does not seem like a viable option. In addition, since all online gaming companies are registered off-shore, it is impossible for the government to cut internet gambling off at the source (United States General Accounting Office, 2002).

But one thing the government can do is close advertising loopholes. Currently, the government enforces laws that make it illegal to advertise gambling websites. However, online gaming companies get around this law by advertising their non-gambling “dot-net” sites instead of their gambling “dot-com” sites. On the “dot-net” sites, there are simple direct links to the “dot-com” sites, which thus allows for companies to basically subvert the law. These advertisements are prominently shown during televised poker tournaments, where many young people can see them.

A more realistic way to prevent kids from getting hooked on internet poker is by spreading awareness of the problem. Parents need to educate themselves about the threat of online poker addiction and stop their kids from using credit cards online. Parents should also refuse to financially bail their children out if they develop a gambling debt—just as parents would not give more drugs or alcohol to a substance-addicted child. Schools need to better address the problem as well. Campuses can set up help groups for those addicted and spread information about the threat of online gambling to those who might become addicted. College counselors should add “gambling addiction” to their list of expertise. With 20% of college students playing online poker (and about 10% of those becoming addicted), schools need to accept the game as a legitimate threat and curb the problem before it spirals out of control.

Gambling companies can also act more responsibly when it comes to preventing addiction. All sites need to have links to Gambling Anonymous type websites (though some already do). More importantly, companies need to stop fueling addictions. For example, certain websites will give free money to customers that have lost their bankroll and have not played in a while. Such an act will pull a recovering addict right back into the fray (Francis, 2005). This unethical practice needs to end; when it is clear that a person wants to stop gambling online, companies should respect that decision.

Finally, there needs to be more of a societal push to warn people about the dangers of online gambling. Currently, there are only a few outspoken voices on the matter that form an insignificant force. Though gambling is considered a vice, it is wholly accepted by society. There are presently no major anti-gambling campaigns. Most people are simply unaware that the internet is fueling the rate of gambling addiction in America. Hopefully, society will soon recognize the urgency of the matter and help curtail the problem before it becomes too big.

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