Given that technology has greatly facilitated easier access to gambling in previous years, it is timely to look in-depth into online gambling activities and behaviors. There have been several studies that examined online gambling. However, most of the current studies to date have focused on determining the prevalence and the epidemiology of problem gambling arising from online gambling in Western cohorts. There remains a paucity of research looking at the problem of online gambling among Asian individuals. The objectives of the current study are to elucidate the characteristics of online gambling among an Asian cohort and to explore the harm associated with online gambling and the potential mechanisms by which harm associated with online gambling could be minimized. It is hoped that the findings of the current paper will bridge the existing gaps in the research literature. A cross-sectional study design was utilized to recruit 100 participants who were attending outpatient services at the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) from March 2014 to October 2015. The majority of the participants were male, of Chinese ethnicity and under the age of 30 years old (48%). Mobile phones and smartphones were the most commonly utilized platforms for gambling online. The median largest ever debt incurred as a result of online gambling ($20,000) was significantly more than that due to offline gambling ($500) (Z
= −4.17, p
< 0.001). As for the biggest ever loss, participants had incurred a significantly larger median loss from online gambling ($7000) (Z
= −2.73, p
< 0.01) compared to offline gambling ($2000). A total of 18.4% of participants had waited between 1 to 2 years from their first online gambling experience to seek treatment and 17.3% had waited for more than 10 years. This is perhaps one of the first Asian studies to investigate the serious harm involved in online gambling. The findings from our study are intended to guide further interventions in the treatment of online gambling related disorders; and would be of interest to governmental organizations in their planning of regulations for online gambling.
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