The majority of online gamblers — some 60 percent of those surveyed — believe the sites they visit are “fixed,” according to a survey released Tuesday by online market research firm Greenfield Online.
The “What Are the Odds?” study also found that 31 percent of online gamblers are not satisfied with Internet gambling sites and that only 15 percent feel online casinos are more fun than their offline counterparts.
“The message of this research is that those behind online gambling sites must do more to win the confidence of people who visit their sites,” said Rudy Nadilo, president and CEO of the Wilton, Connecticut-based Greenfield Online.
The Internet hosts over 700 online gaming sites and generated $1.1 billion (US$) in 1999, according to a recent survey by gambling industry consulting firm the River City Group. By 2002, online gambling revenue is expected to reach $3 billion.
Play for Free
A substantial number of Americans visit online gambling sites — a recent report from the online gambling industry estimates that one million Americans gamble online every day and that 4.5 million have gambled online at least once — but 89 percent are only willing to play for free.
The unwillingness to pay is reflected in the survey’s list of most visited online gambling sites: the top three allow users to play for free.
The survey found that most of the 2,000 online gamblers surveyed visited multiple gambling sites. Of the top six most visited sites, Freelotto attracted 59 percent of the respondents; Gamesville, 42 percent; Prizecentral, 34 percent; Golden Palace, 15 percent; Virtualeyes.com, 15 percent; and Casino.net, 11 percent. Respondents were permitted to choose multiple sites.
Security Lapses Mean Small-Time Bets
Even those willing to risk money at online casinos are not spending much. Greenfield Online found that the majority of those who do risk money online spend less than $10 per visit.
Most online gamblers have opened accounts to play for money, and have used a credit card or a debit card to fund their accounts. However, nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said they were concerned about the safety of using their credit or debit card at an online casino.
Keep Uncle Sam Away
The U.S. government does not have the right to pass legislation banning online gambling, according to two-thirds of online gamblers surveyed.
The Net gaming industry won a political victory in July when the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a bill that would have banned online gambling. Although lawmakers voted 245-159 in favor of the measure, it fell 25 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for approval, according to special floor rules under which it was considered.
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Bill would have banned the sale of lottery tickets online, online casino games, and online wagers on sporting events. Exempted from the bill were horse racing, greyhound racing and jai alai.
The Clinton administration opposed the bill, saying the law appeared designed to protect certain forms of Internet gambling that are currently illegal while “opening the floodgates for other forms of illegal gambling.”
While most survey respondents hope to avoid government intervention, 72 percent feel the convenience of online gambling will foster more gambling addictions.