As we witness the emergence of new consumption habits and behaviours related to communication technologies, it is legitimate to question the evolution of gambling practices in the population.

The development of online gambling has been raising public health concerns for the past twenty years, since available knowledge indicates that online gamblers generally exhibit more psychosocial problems than offline gamblers.

The study’s findings reveal real impacts that are not captured by current monitoring tools.

This research aimed to verify whether and to what extent online gambling has more negative impacts on the health and well-being of adult gamblers in the province of Québec. Using the innovative method of propensity score matching, the study examined a sample of 826 regular gamblers divided into sub-groups: “pure” online gamblers (gamble only online), mixed online gamblers (gamble both online and offline), and a control group of offline gamblers.

The study showed that: 1) online gambling does in fact generate an additional burden of impacts and problem gambling among online gamblers and their families. These impacts can be seen in a number of areas of their lives: work, relationships, mental and physical health, finances and quality of life; 2) when combined with offline gambling, online gambling considerably increases the burden of impacts in terms of number and intensity.

Aside from providing a measure of problem gambling, the study’s findings reveal real impacts that are not captured by current monitoring tools. The cost of these impacts on gamblers, their families and the community thus remains underestimated. In light of these results, it appears essential to develop a population monitoring measure that will provide a picture of gambling harm.

Since the online model serves to accentuate the negative consequences of gambling on the health and well-being of gamblers and their families, public policy should consider regulating the marketing of online gambling and imposing restrictions on its promotion similar to those in place for other harmful products.

Main researcher

Élisabeth Papineau, Institut national de la santé du Québec


Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: December 2015