Back to the articles

The Traps of Online Gambling

Be careful of the numerous traps with online gambling. It is possible to play various games and we have observed that online gamblers have a tendency to take more risks and to bet more money than they do with off line games. In order to reduce the scope of online gambling in your life, here are some of the traps related to this practice.

Trap #1

When the payouts are higher
and more numerous during the trial (demo) session

Some online gambling sites take advantage of the lack of global legislation to attract people by using questionable practices. For example, during the trial (demo) session, when real money is not bet, certain sites offer inflated payouts. In other words, they increase the probabilities of winning to attract more people. However, once you have registered and start betting real money, the probabilities go back to normal and your losses start accumulating.

Therefore, providing inflated payout rates during demo games is a reinforcement strategy. It encourages you to play for real money and as result, you end up losing more than during the demo session.

Trap #2

Free credits are only given
when a minimum number of games are played

Have you ever signed up to play with real money and the site offered you free credits?  Be very careful because there are specific rules to using those credits. One of these rules specifies that the sites will not pay out if you do not play a certain amount of games or use a minimum amount of money with the credits you received. Thus, you are always encouraged to play more.

Trap #3

Internet use can feed
your erroneous beliefs about gambling

« Challenge your skill with real money », « Practice really does make perfect », « You are one of our smartest fun players », « Based on your playing skills… », do you recognize these inciters? These sentences may seem harmless, but they in fact reinforce erroneous beliefs about gambling. In fact, certain sites emphasize the positive results obtained during the demo sessions and encourage you to use your «skills» during real games.  Furthermore, ads on the internet can also encourage the false belief that you have more control over the games than you really do. Certain marketing strategies may even make you feel important by leading you to believe that you are in a class of gamblers more intelligent and powerful than the norm.

Beware of « pop-up » windows and multiple e-mails that favour the emergence of erroneous beliefs or that make you believe that you can control chance. The majority of games do not require any skill. Many online gambling sites contribute to the development of erroneous beliefs and/or uphold them and increase the risk of developing a problem.

Trap #4

The internet can increase the risk of addiction

Online gambling favours isolation and exposes you to other aggravating factors such as the absence of trained personnel in gambling prevention who can help you not lose control over your gambling behaviours. In addition, certain virtual gambling sites from other countries can have different regulations than Canadian sites.

Trap #5

The internet makes gambling accessible 24/7

Giving in to the urge to gamble via internet is particularly easy. Actually, the opportunity to gamble anywhere, anytime could feed your compulsion and make you addicted to the internet. You no longer need to leave your house to bet your money and risk losing everything! It would, without a doubt, be prudent to quelch any enthusiasm for this activity. Having this accessibility to internet increases the risk of gambling longer and more often. Thus, you risk betting more money and to suffer from increasing financial loss.

Trap #6

The internet enables loss of contact with reality

Because of the interactive nature of the virtual world, you can develop a completely false sense of control that takes you further away from its entertaining nature. Furthermore, the fact that you are gambling away from the (sometimes) critical eyes of your loved ones may open the way to excess.  Be careful: time seems to stop when you are gambling online and thus, loses its meaning.

Wins and losses happen very quickly on the internet. By gambling online, you are exposing yourself to substantial risk by betting, winning and quickly betting your wins again. This scenario which repeats itself multiple times can get you entangled in the game. In some ways, you can easily forget that you are betting real money with the risk of waking up to a substantial financial loss that you cannot afford.


If you chose to gamble online, set yourself a time limit, plan an amount of money and limit your gambling frequency.  Remember that on top of contributing to the development of a gambling addiction, online gambling can also lead to the development of an internet addiction. Overusing the internet, having cravings when you are not connected, increasing the frequency of your visits and having to live with negative consequences in different areas of your life are signs that you may be addicted to the internet. There is help: call us at your convenience.


Traps 1, 2 and 3 were taken from the study: Sévigny, S., Cloutier, M., Pelletier, M.-F., and Ladouceur, R. (2005). Internet Gambling: misleading payout rates during the “demo” period. Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 21, Issue 1, Pages 153-158

Traps 5 and 6 were taken from Le Jeu en ligne : savoir pour choisir (brochure produced by Mise sur toi in collaboration with Mrs. Sylvia Kairouz and Mrs. Tsvetelina Mihaylova) 

Read more articles