Internet debt problems on the rise

Although it is not difficult to equate the enormous increase in online gambling with an growth in people seeking help to clear debt racking up on credit cards, US specialists are also warning of growing problems in internet and computer addiction, linked to a compulsion to spend in the virtual arena.

Such addiction could take the form of becoming too dependent on the ‘rush’ achieved through outbidding competitors on auction sites such as eBay or spending obsessive amounts of time online bargain-hunting.

The potent combination of the removal of ‘real money’ for internet transactions and the easy accessibility to any service or product your heart desires are thought to be central to the growing problem.

Andrew Poole, spokesman for the gambling debt and bankruptcy advice charity GamCare, noted that the internet gives problem online spenders ample opportunities to keep their addiction hidden until it is out of control.

Unlike a day at a sporting event, internet gambling is a solitary pastime and the privacy it affords may remove social inhibitions.

Its attraction comes from the ‘three A’s’, experts say: anonymity, affordability and accessibility.