eCOGRA Study: Online gamblers mainly play for fun

Nearly 11,000 online gamblers from 96 countries weighed in for the eCOGRA Global Online Gambler Survey commissioned by eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) last year. The most surprising result was that the majority respondents said playing was more about entertainment for them rather than making money.

The survey took place between September and October 2006. During that time, 10,865 people responded, answering 85 questions on various aspects of online gambling.

The survey covered player attitudes and player behavior. They looked at the types of gambling people choose, why they gambled online and various other aspects. The survey also gave researches a better look at the average online gambler.

According to the survey, the average online poker player is likely to:

  • Be male (73.8%)
  • Be age 26-35 (26.9%)
  • Play two to three times per week (26.9%)
  • Have visited more than six poker sites in the preceding three months (25%)
  • Have played for two to three years (23.6%)
  • Play for between one to two hours per session (33.3%)
  • Play one (24.1%) or two (24%) tables at a time
  • Play both cash games and tournaments (34%)
  • Play at big-blind levels of 25p to £1 (61.2%)
  • Play with 6-10% of their bankroll at a table at any one time (23%)

They also determined that the average online casino player is female, aged 46 to 55, who also plays two to three times per week for one to two hours at a time.

One thing both types of gamblers seemed to have in common is that when they were asked why they gamble online, most responded with answers such as "to relax," "for entertainment and excitement" or "to relieve boredom."

Those answered heavily outweighed answers about making money or playing to win, which highlights that many online gamblers look at this as a leisure activity rather than a way to make money.

Players thought the best things about Internet gambling were its convenience and accessibility and that it's fun and exciting. As can be expected, the drawbacks they mainly cited were losing and the financial implications of gambling.

Their attitudes towards the games also included some areas of improvement. High on the list was the desire to see more sites submitting themselves to effective self regulation like that of eCOGRA.

Other suggested areas of improvement included operator transparency, clarity of regulations, uniformity of code of conduct, responsiveness to complaints and better responsible gambling features.

It appears that most players, 64%, often or always play on some of the biggest name online gambling sites to avoid the risk of being cheated. Other precautions many of then also take is to look for well-known software providers or seals certifying the site is regulated and checked.

In their report, eCOGRA also found it interesting to note that while half the respondents were confident about the integrity of the online gaming software, one in three thought that sites had an off/off switch to turn the software in their favor.

According to their press release, that is "something than an eCOGRA member site would find it impossible to implement thanks to the organization's standards for software development and independent testing procedures."

"These findings are a salutary reminder about the vast majority of players who enjoy this form of entertainment responsibly," said Andrew Beveridge, eCOGRA CEO.

He said eCOGRA's job is to help guide those players to online gambling sites that meet the players' expectations regarding fair play, responsible operator conduct and provisions to address problem gambling.

"This report provides invaluable information that will shape our approach for the next year as we continue to provide players with a 'gold standard' level of protection," Beveridge said.

As for player behavior, the survey found that most online gamblers play mainly at home in the evening, though one in 10 women preferred playing in the workplace.

Online gamblers also tend to play responsibly and realistically according to the survey. Casino players typical wagered between £15-30 per session, and poker players played with 2-10% of their bankroll.

A third of the poker players also said in the survey that the game requires more skill than luck, but most say they were simply averagely skilled. Players also did better both in the casinos and poker rooms if they didn't chase losses and kept an unbiased approach.

Jonathan Parke, International Gaming Research Unit, said the research in the survey was exciting in many ways as it brought academia and the Internet gambling industry together and also was the largest initiative carried out in that area.

"There are many interesting findings: some of which reinforce previous assumptions; some of which provide a fresh understanding of player behavior and attitudes" Park said.

A summary report is available for download at www.ecogra.org.

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