Researchers Probe Internet Dependency

Fortunately for online bingo players gambling addiction is extremely rare. When a case does surface it usually receives widespread coverage in the media. There have been several well documented cases of bingo addiction such as the woman in the UK who stole £76,000 from her employer to fund her bingo addiction. Lucienne Mainey, 41, from Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to prison for 16 months for her thefts. Another woman in the UK stole thousands of pounds from her mother to play online bingo alienating her family in the process. What causes some players to go so far off track? Some scientists think they may have the answer.

Scientists studying internet addiction found the same changes in the brain observed in people addicted to drugs like alcohol and cocaine. Researchers used MRI machines to reveal brain abnormalities in adolescents who spent several hours on the internet each day. For many their internet use damaged their social lives and personalities. Scientists believe the findings could lead to the development of new treatment approaches. Scientists estimate that between 5% and 10% of all internet users are addicted to using the internet. Addiction means that they cannot control their internet use. A majority of addicts are gamers who get so absorbed in their games that they go long periods of time without food and drink and their work, education and relationships suffer because of their use.

Henrietta Bowden Jones of the Imperial College, London, runs the UK’s only National Health Service clinic for internet addicts. Jones told reporters “The majority of people we see with serious internet addiction are gamers – people who spend long hours in roles in various games that cause them to disregard their obligations. I have seen people who stopped attending university lectures, failed their degrees or their marriages broke down because they were unable to emotionally connect with anything outside the game.”

Unfortunately an internet addiction combined with a propensity for gambling addiction is a recipe for disaster and many cases in the news have shown. For most online bingo players the games are a social activity and for most players social interaction is much more important than financial gain. The atmosphere during bingo is not highly competitive as it is during poker games. Bingo players do not really play against each other as poker players do. At many online bingo sites chat hosts have been trained to recognize those that may have a problem. Most online bingo sites post links to organizations that specialize in internet and gambling addiction. For most online bingo players the games are played for fun and entertainment and it would be a real shame if a few problem players ruined it for the majority.

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