The Psychology of Gambling

Gambling is a really controversial topic, much like alcohol and cigarettes.  On one end it’s what people want, it can be fun, and it benefits the economy, and yet on the other hand it has its fair share of problems. In reality, the gambling industry is really massive, and it is still growing. So it would be wrong to think that all of the people who gamble have a problem. The truth is those who have experienced problems and whose families were affected are quite vocal and readily speak against it. On the other hand, when someone wins a jackpot and gets to completely change his or her life, it also makes the news. Here we will explore the pros and cons, or more precisely the psychology of gambling. 

People Are Excited For the Possibility of a Massive Reward

When it comes to jackpots or lottery it’s wrong to call it a scam or to say that people are delusional. Most of the players are fully aware of how odds are stacked against them but they still play. This is because incredible things happen on a daily basis, and you have the opportunity to pay a minor amount that can only result in something good. Moreover, if the funds are going for a good cause, it’s a great way to incentivize donations, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved. 

Now there is a lot of criticism that this is just praying for the weak and poor who don’t see any other way out of their situation but to win the lottery. Admittedly this sounds bad, but the regulations nowadays are way more rigorous. Meaning, much like alcohol and cigarettes, customers are warned to gamble responsibly. Also, the lottery is not designed to really be addictive like some other games, so it’s really hard to defend this negative argument. 

Skinner Box  

Almost all games have a so-called Skinner box incorporated into their design. It’s the action that leads to a reward for the player which motivates them to play more. This is why slot machines often do return some portion of funds or give free spins. If a player is on a constant losing streak he or she is more likely to quit. The existence of this feature actually leads to gambler’s fallacy or other psychological traps that many compulsive gamblers fall into.    

They start to think that if they were on a losing streak the chances are in their favor to turn the situation around. This is absurd because past outcomes have no impact on the future. Another problem is that they are under the impression that they are breaking even. There was a lot of money going back and forth, so they use this to deny they have a problem or that they are losing. 

It’s Not All About Luck

A lot of these games can be exhilarating and act as sort of a high for gamblers. Poker can be addicting because of all the elements that are happening outside of the game. You are playing mind games, outsmarting your opponents, or even seeing through their bluff. This is why the game is so absorbing and you are thinking about it even when you are not playing. Moreover, there are tournaments and the fact that some people are performing well means it’s so much more than a game of luck.