The Psychology of Gambling: Why We Play

Have you ever thought about the psychology of gambling, and why this field has been so popular for so long? Gambling has a long history. Just because there weren't specific casinos or online games, doesn't mean gambling wasn't something extensively practiced by players throughout the ages. The reputation of casinos is mixed. On one hand, it can be thought of as a healthy escape from reality, a fun release from day to day troubles with the exciting, added possibility of winning money. Gambling can also become something unhealthy if used inappropriately. The motivation of gamblers often varies, and every gambler probably has a different reason for entering the casino.

There have undoubtedly been scientific studies and research teams who dive in and study our fascination with gambling, but in this article we're going to take a more basic approach and answer the obvious questions. What is a player's motivation? What constitutes healthy and unhealthy gambling? These are all good questions.

The Motivation Behind Gambling

There's no concrete, singular reason people gamble. However, there are general reasons someone might gamble. Most people are social gamblers. That means they play in a healthy way. They'll play slots or craps for some time, and walk away with no compulsive desire to gamble more. 90% of gamblers do practice responsible gaming, much like any other vice. Most of the time your average gambler falls under the category of being a recreational gambler.

Many times your average gambler plays for pure enjoyment. Real money slots can be tons of fun. They're pure entertainment for players of all backgrounds. Players also love the excitement and thrill of winning, psychology I imagine it's similar to the reason people love when their team wins in a sports game. It brings out the competitive rush many of us seem to enjoy.

There's also a social element of gambling when we're talking about going to an actual casino, or even playing a live dealer game online. Many players love to speak to other gamblers as they play bets, like craps gamblers or poker players where a lot of the game relates to the players around them. Skill based games are also challenging, and many players live to conquer a challenge. Mastering the art of blackjack or poker is not only impressive and glamorous, but it's also handy.

High rollers often gamble with a different motivation. Since these players already have tons of money, showing their wealth off becomes a sport in itself for these players. They want to showcase their wealth and be a big spender. They might try and make other similar wealthy friends, and a casino is a good place for them to find people similar to them. Along with the big spenders probably enjoying all of the prior benefits I mentioned, such as the thrill and excitement of the game itself. Plus, if you are a high roller most casinos offer special treatment, such as comp points that can be used for special rewards like food, drinks, bonuses and more. High rollers receive special treatment from casino staff when they spend a lot.

According to a 2003 study by Yale researchers, pathological gambling is hardwired into our brains. While it obviously affects some more than others, it seems to be part of our nature to enjoy gambling.

The Psychology of Problem Gambling

While problem gambling only affects a portion of the population, it's still important to examine why this occurs in some adults. Many problem gamblers start out using the games to escape from the day to day problems of their ordinary life, which can certainly get stressful. A little escapism is healthy enough, but things can escalate fast. Gambling can also give an illusion of control.

The financial climate is also tough, and some players with financial struggles see gambling as a way to make real money while spending very little. Of course, it's hard to beat the house edge, especially with little experience and knowledge of the games. Another common behavior of problem gamblers is chasing losses, too. Too many players chase losses thinking they'll win back their original losses if they just keep playing.