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Please, stop blaming online gambling for everything!


I would usually just wave away the normal cheap-shots against online gambling. But the popularity of what I am about to talk about was the last straw!

In the past week, a medical article surfaced on the Internet with original title "Pathological Gambling in Parkinson's' disease" and subtitle "Reducing or stopping dopamine agonists may help" with most reprints titled in the sprit of "Online gambling dangerous to Parkinson's patients" or something very similar. The article was originally published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

First of all, I want to say to anyone reprinting the article the wrong way: STOP IT ALREADY! Obviously there are a lot of folks out there willing to spin thing around just so they could benefit from it.

Let me set a few things straight about this "study". I am no doctor, nor I have any medical degree, but I know how to do my homework, and I set out to find what lays behind this "new" medical article, because it instantly rung a bell - why is this article published in the British Medical Journal during a time when the U.K. is considering licensing 17 new casinos in the country...

But before I go ahead, I would like to mention to our readers, that most online portals do not publish their own news - websites such as MSN, Yahoo, AOL and many more, which you may be using to read the latest news - all of them use news agencies, such as the Associated Press and Reuters. So basically they just copy whatever the news agency is sending them, usually without even reading it in dept. That said, I don't blame them for not paying much attention. But our website is industry focused, so I just had to take a second look.

As I mentioned earlier, the publication in the BMJ was published quite conveniently for the opposition of the U.K.'s gambling expansion.

The facts:

  • First - this is NOT a study. The authors of the article Sui H Wong and Malcolm J Staiger did not tell us anything new - all they did was a compilation of citations from old articles, much like putting a bunch of old Metallica songs on a CD and calling it the new Guns N' Roses album.
  • Some of those citations are from studies done as early as the year 2000.
  • In the whole article, there was only one small paragraph, mentioning Internet gambling. As a matter of fact, here is the whole paragraph I am talking about, quote:
     "About 5.8 million people in the UK—one in 10 internet users—log on to internet gambling sites each month. This is expected to rise as more households connect to the internet and as the use of broadband increases. Many internet gambling companies actively lure gamblers with pop-ups to place free bets. This marketing technique is pervasive and can
    make it hard for vulnerable people to wean themselves off gambling."

    The underlined sentence actually references a work in progress with Mr. Wong as one of the authors, but do you see the words used: "vulnerable people"? Pretty broad term for a topical medical article. I cannot wait for Mr. Wong and the rest of the authors to finish this case study.
  • It is true that studies have been made which link the medicine "Mirapex" (a dopamine agonist) with pathological gambling behaviors. As a matter of fact, the whole point of all the quotations in the article is that the dopamine agonists could increase the tendencies for pathological gambling in Parkinson's patients treated with them. READ CAREFUL: THE DRUGS MAY LEAD TO GAMBLING ADDICTION! Even the subtitle of the article states it: "Reducing or stopping dopamine agonists may help". Just because you suffer from Parkinson's disease it does not mean that you will become compulsive Internet gambler.
  • There are several lawsuit filed against Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc, the manufacturer of "Miramex", because it may cause compulsive behavior. Here is a quote from one of the websites dedicated to collecting claims against "Miramex":
    "The link between Mirapex gambling, sex and eating are not the only compulsive behaviors being reported. There are cases where the complainants have painted their homes ten to fifteen times in the course of two months, and other idiosyncratic behaviors. In virtually every alleged case, the person involved had no prior history of obsessive or compulsive behaviors."
  • Many other dopamine agonists, such as "Rotigotine" by Schwarz Pharma AG and "Ropinirole" by GlaxoSmithKline list the urge to gamble as a side effect of their drug.

My head already hurts from all this medical mambo-jambo, so I think this should be enough to prove my point: Drugs currently used to treat Parkinson's disease may cause gambling addiction.

Oh, and did I mention that every person who stopped the dopamine agonist treatment stop showing any signs of compulsive behavior.

So, to everyone trying to make an Internet gambling case out of this - CUT IT OFF!!!




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