Is the presence of Internet cafes creating gambling addicts?
This is a question that came up at a recent speaking engagement. And it’s an interesting question. With the proliferation of online gambling and impulsive behavioral addictions, questions like these are coming up more and more.
If you answer yes, then think about this: The same type argument could be made for alcohol and bars. Is the presence of places that serve alcohol creating alcoholics, or will people drink somewhere regardless of the physical options offered?
Are bars creating alcoholics, or are alcoholics keeping bars open? Paying the electric bill and keeping a roof over the owner’s and bartender’s heads?
Are Internet cafes creating gambling addicts, or are gambling addicts keeping Internet cafes in business? There are many people who go to an Internet cafe for a few hours to get things done, and then they leave. There are many people who go to a bar, have a couple drinks, and then leave. Can we put blame on the cafe or bar for people enjoying being there, and possibly developing an unhealthy pattern of behavior, and even an addiction to the good or service being offered?
Still need more? What about sex? The same argument can surround the topic of abstinence versus safe sex. Do we teach the next generation to abide by abstinence and not teach them about safe ways to engage in sex, and then just assume that they will listen and not partake in any sexual activity? Or do we educate young people on what can happen if you do not protect yourself during sex, and allow them to make their own decisions once they have all of the information? If I give you a condom, does that mean that I want you to have sex, or is it a tool for when you choose to participate in the act?
Are Internet cafes any different? Don’t we, as individuals, have the power to choose whether we walk into a place that offers online gambling, or alcohol? And don’t we choose how much time to spend gambling online, and how much alcohol to drink in one sitting?
What if the choice is being influenced by an addiction? What if I walk into a casino or Internet cafe and cannot stop gambling once I’ve started? Or, I walk into a bar and cannot stop drinking once I’ve started. Can the responsibility for my excessive gambling and money loss, or my intoxication and public drunkenness, be put on the Internet cafe, or bar?
Can we take this a step further and throw the concept of obesity and food addiction into the mix? Is the presence of grocery stores, restaurants, and fast food establishments (with easy-access drive-thru windows) creating food addicts?
We all have to eat food to stay alive, why can’t some people stop when they are full? We don’t all have to gamble or drink though, so what is the common thread among gambling online, alcohol, sex, and food? If an Internet cafe, or a bar, adult store, or fast-food restaurant, opens right by your house, will it alter your behavior?
What can be done to keep someone from spending too much time, or from losing money, while gambling online? As an Internet cafe owner, would you take time and put forward some energy to survey your clientele? To check for signs of Internet addiction among the people you find in your seats most often? A bar owner is more likely to spot the patrons who have over consumed and who need to leave. Calling a cab, or in some cases, the person’s family, to get the drunk person home safely becomes part of your job.
Could you spot people who are gambling too much by the amount of time spent at your Internet, or would you have to keep tabs on their spending? Can you ask them to leave?
What do you think? Who’s responsible for impulsive behavior? Is it the individual’s moral decision making? An individual’s brain chemistry? Or is the establishment enabling the individual to make “wrong” decisions?