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ing gambling to customer preferences and responses. Current gambling sites on the Internet require customers to provide their name, postal address, email address, social security number, and credit card information. Some sites require customers also to provide the name of the customer's mother's maiden name or other specific identifying information. Typically software has to be downloaded to the customer's machine as well; the customer's machine has a unique address that allows records to be kept over time about the use of that machine. Software can record gamblers' identity when they start a gambling session and passively log the time they spend gambling, the game they play, the time they spend logged into the Internet, the address that identifies the web pages they connect to, and in some cases the electronic mail addresses they exchange email with. Although current Internet gambling sites are fairly traditional in their design and have problems with slow response time and errors, the technology provides opportunity for much more sophisticated, adaptive applications in the future.
Many scholars, technologists, and social critics debate how computer technologies, and the Internet in particular, are transforming economic and social life (e.g., Anderson and Van Der Heijden, 1998). It has been posited that home gambling and the Internet may attract adolescent gamblers, or cause people to get addicted to gambling and cut themselves off from normal social constraints on gambling, as they hunker alone over their terminals playing games in electronic casinos or betting with anonymous strangers through chat rooms. However, it could also be argued that gambling problems at home, whether via the Internet or some other telecommunications technology, will be rare. It has been claimed that the Internet actually offers people more and better entertainment and social opportunities by freeing them from the constraints of geography or isolation brought on by stigma, illness, or schedule (e.g., Rheingold, 1993).
There are at least two reasons why computer-based gambling at home should be studied further, using methodologies that can distinguish the effects of gambling at home from other factors.