Brick-and-mortar casinos have always been a little intimidating. For people who have never gambled before, that venture into the unknown is unnerving. For seasoned players, it could be discomfort over the prying eyes of otherss. Online casino gambling broke these barriers and has exploded in popularity in the last couple of decades. 

With everything at your fingertips, it has introduced unprecedented convenience. You can play from anywhere you are as long as you have an internet connection. Unfortunately, online gambling’s appeal is also the main reason it's more addiction-prone. We take a look at online casino gambling addiction risk factors, symptoms, and how you can break free.

Psychological Factors

One or more psychological factors can be key drivers of online gambling addiction. Some of the most common psychological factors include:

  • Risk-Taking Thrill – Risk implies threat, danger and hazard. It would seem somewhat counterintuitive that risk--taking could be accompanied by thrill. But it’s all about how the human body works. Risk-taking comes with a surge in adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone. Subjecting yourself to the risk of likely loss and unlikely win can eventually become a thrill cycle that you look forward to. Online casinos are designed to keep players chasing the thrill – flashy animations, bright colours, insinuation of near misses and the constant encouragement to try again.
  • Dopamine Rush from Winning – Dopamine is the feel-good hormone. It is characterised by the high you experience after healthy activities such as physical exercise. However, dopamine release also occurs from problematic behaviour such as substance abuse. Winning at anything you set out to do despite great odds is a natural dopamine trigger. It’s that inner sense of satisfaction you experience when you win. Once you chalk up one or more casino wins and get that warming rush of dopamine, you could be sucked into a reinforcement cycle of reward-seeking to relive the euphoria.
  • Stress Escape – A lot of addictive behaviour is an escape from stress and personal life challenges – online gambling addiction is no exception. Problems at work, home and college, can drive you to immerse yourself in online casino games during any spare time to avoid (albeit temporarily) thinking about the difficulties you currently face.

Convenience and Accessibility

Convenience and ease of access are online casinos' most significant advantage over their physical counterparts. And this is also arguably the main reason addiction is more likely with online gambling. Here’s why:

  • Ease of access – A smartphone and an internet connection is all you need to set up an online casino account and play. Quickly deposit funds by credit card or web wallet. There’s none of the time and travel obstacles that limit access to a brick-and-mortar casino.
  • 24/7 availability – Depending on jurisdiction as well as the business own preferences, physical casinos can operate 24/7. By default, online casinos run 24/7. They are only inaccessible during scheduled or unscheduled system maintenance.
  • Location independent – Irrespective of the country you open your online casino account from, you have access to it wherever you go in the world. You have the ability to play during business travel, on vacation, in the office, at home or in college.
  • Private – No one in your social circle can tell when you are playing and on what casino platform unless you choose to divulge this information to them. Without anyone holding you accountable, it’s easy to get caught up in addictive play.

Social and Environmental Influences

Social and environmental factors can contribute to an increased risk of Internet gambling addiction. For example:

  • Advertising – Online casino advertising campaigns glamorise gambling by associating it with wealth, success, happiness and fulfilment. While the casino is hoping the sensational marketing will grow its business, the ad hyperbole may be consumed verbatim by consumers that fail to distinguish between skillful messaging and fact-based reality. The result is a descent into unhealthy gambling habits in pursuit of this romanticised goal.
  • Peer influence – The influence of our social circle on our everyday actions cannot be overstated. If your closest family and friends participate in, encourage or normalise excessive gambling, you are at greater risk of getting on the path to addiction.
  • Online communities – Online gambling communities and forums should ordinarily be an important reference point for learning about how to navigate the online casino landscape. Unfortunately, not all such communities are regulated. Even when there is moderation, it may not clamp down on conversation encouraging compulsive gambling. More impressionable members of the community may be propelled to addiction by the gambling misrepresentation.
  • COVID-19 – The COVID-19 pandemic is no longer the global crisis it was in 2020-2021. Its effects however linger on. In particular, the government-mandated and self-imposed isolation led to a surge in online casino activity, introducing numerous individuals to gambling who were ill-equipped to understand the warning signs of addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

The earlier you can spot signs and symptoms of addiction, the quicker you can pull yourself from the brink and the less effort you need to get back on the straight and narrow. Here are the key indicators of emotional dependence and behavioural change you should look out for:

  • Mental preoccupation – You constantly think about online gambling, potential strategies and the prospects of future wins.
  • Excessive time spent gambling – You spend the majority of your free time gambling.
  • Overspending on gambling – You spend an inordinate proportion of your income on gambling despite the growing financial strain.
  • Failure to fulfil personal and professional obligations – You neglect household, work and college responsibilities.
  • Failing interpersonal relationships – You withdraw from interpersonal relationships and social activities.
  • Secrecy – You look for a place to hide when gambling to keep the habit out of sight of your loved ones. You resort to lying when asked about the amount of time and money you spend on gambling.
  • Mood swings – You are regularly irritable, anxious, depressed and just in a foul mood overall.

Seeking Help and Recovery

Recognizing you have a gambling problem is already half the journey to recovery. To break free of addiction, do the following:

  • Utilise online resources – There are government- and nonprofit-sponsored free guides and other online resources to help with gambling addiction recovery. It’s a good place to start and might be all you need to get back on the right track if your addiction is in its preliminary stages and/or not severe.
  • Professional help – In case you are finding it difficult shaking off the problem on your own, seek professional help from gambling addiction therapists or counsellors. As experts at navigating problematic gambling behaviour, they can be an asset at pointing out when you are going right and when you are at risk of falling off the bandwagon.
  • Support groups – Unfortunately, gambling addiction is a widespread problem. That means there is no scarcity of support groups for recovering addicts. The sense of community and peer support is vital for attaining and maintaining recovery.
  • Self-exclusion – Reputable online casinos have a self-exclusion option where players can take a weeks-long, months-long or indefinite break. Self-exclusion options range from a complete self-imposed ban to placing restrictions on certain gambling features (such as account deposits). In the worst case, request account closure.


Online casino addiction can occur for varied reasons but most causes can be classified as either psychological, social/environmental or convenience/accessibility. If you notice your internet gambling passion is showing signs of addiction, understand that help is always within reach. 

Take appropriate action to break free of the vicious cycle. Read and watch gambling addiction recovery self-help guides. Opt into self-exclusion where available. Work with a gambling therapist or counsellor. Join a gambling support group. Above all, adopt responsible gambling practices going forward.

About the author 

Peter Clayton

Peter is one of Indivisible Gaming's developers and has been working with us since 2015. When he isn't busy working on an upcoming game, he loves writing about all the games that he has played and tested. His experience in the industry is second to none, and we are grateful to have him on our team.