Referring to gambling as a “game of chance” elicits random, luck, fun, as well as a sense of collective engagement. Such playful connotations are among the reasons why almost three-quarters of American adults have gambled at one point in their life.
If we try to understand the reason why people gamble, we may assume that most of them do it for the thrill, money, or pleasure. Still, even if these things have initially led people to betting, there are many other reasons behind that.
For some, gambling is no longer an enjoyable diversion. Instead, it became a compulsive habit.
So, what keeps some people playing even when it is no longer fun? Why do people still stick to games that they know are designed to make them lose?
Are some people luckier than others, and are others just unluckier than everyone else? Or are they just bad at calculating the odds? Read on to figure out the psychology behind gambling.
The Gambler’s Fallacy
The gambler’s fallacy is a thinking mistake behind the motivation for gambling, which results in people having false expectations of influencing or predicting the results of a game based on chance. A player will attribute higher chances of a better outcome, based on the prior outcomes they experienced.
Roulette’s progression strategies are based on the belief that if you continue betting and adding your bet on blue, for instance, you will finally win. However, you will be making your bets on blue with no guarantee whatsoever that it will turn out as a win.
Doing it ten times over doesn’t guarantee any wins since the chances are still 50/50. Besides, even if you eventually won, what are the chances that this one win will cover all the previous losses? There’s a very minimal chance.
No One Like Losing
No one starts to gamble by thinking that they’ll lose. So, most people will place a bet immediately after a loss since they are frustrated about losing, rather than excited about a possible win.
Most men actually keep playing after losing because they convince themselves that they can afford to lose that amount of cash. For women, it’s more of the embarrassment of losing in public.
In the long run, most people end up suffering immense losses because they are convinced of a probable win that will cover prior losses. This clouds their judgment since they don’t consider how unlikely it is to get a win from this strategy. That’s a behavior that is often referred to as “loss chasing.”
Gambling Gives an Illusion of Control
Most people tend to be overly confident when sitting at the gaming table. For instance, the illusion of knowing something could leave us with an untrue sense of security about our everyday decisions.
This is because our brain refuses to accept that we are not familiar with something so obvious, or aren’t able to make an exact particular guess. According to The Wall Street Journal, the illusion of control affects people even at the workplace, and no wonder that during poker, this presumption multiplies.
This feeling gets increased by the illusion of control, given to us by gambling games or believing that we can make use of our skills to control a result that is purely determined by chance. One could either take a bigger risk and, therefore, play at high stake casino sites, or suddenly feel lucky, pursuing one really high bet.
Either way, people gamble more when they are convinced that they have some control over how a game turns out. Two main factors contribute to the illusion of control in a gambler, including near misses and individual choice.
This happens in a lot of gambling forms and can be commonly described as when a person is one step from the jackpot, yet they are not winning. According to The Washington Post, a near miss is, for instance, when a horse you bet on finishes second, leaving you devastated for being so close yet so far away from the win.
A near miss is also when, for example, you’re only a number short of bagging the lottery, or when you take a number that is right next to what you’d bet on at roulette. Medium frequency of instances like this instills courage in the gamblers to keep going, hoping that their win is close and a sense that they are improving their competency with these close-wins.
The illusion of control is also affected by the concept of personal choice. In all cases, the gambler is given an option to participate in arranging the gamble actively.
Lucian Marinescu, a partner at OnlineCasinoGems, mentioned, “The gambler is always responsible for rolling the dice, choosing the digits on the lottery ticket, and spinning the ball on the roulette wheel, rather than the croupier. So, the fact that the player gets to choose creates an illusion that they are, in some means, exerting their expertise to control the game’s outcome. However, it is completely random.”
You Get a Natural High from Winning and Betting
You already know that the house always wins. So, why do you keep gambling even though there’s little to no chance of winning?
This is because taking risks excites you. Besides, there’s an incredible promise that if you win, you win big. So, you get something for nothing.
An area near the brain’s center, known as the striatum, is mainly responsible for the rewarding process, and it processes natural reinforces, such as sexual stimuli, food, etc. According to BBC, drug addiction shares a lot of these neural processes. And so does gambling, meaning that winning leads to a natural high.
However, the gambling process itself can be just as addictive as the winning result and pose as an exciting stimulator for some players. The level of anticipation while waiting for scoring in a game, the next card drawn, or the lottery numbers can create an adrenaline rush that most look for in entertainment.
The Attractive World of High-End Gambling
An element that lures people into the world of gambling, which is well-known by marketers, is its glamorous image used by media and popular culture. The conventional idea of gambling usually shows it as a champagne-filled extravaganza of super-wealthy millionaires in glamorous places, as they pay attention to the stacks of money that lie across the tables.
Of course, this sounds like something that everyone would wish to be a part of. Alternatively, horse racing is believed to be a gambling option for wealthy people only. According to The New York Times, it is normally associated with multimillionaire corporation owners and wealthy heirs.
They wear stylish, designer clothes and sip their champagne as they talk about the agenda on their filled social calendar, with this giving off a sense of an exclusive social standing that is being pursued by some people. Linking gambling to such a lifestyle makes it even more alluring, attracting people wanting such a lifestyle even more.
The Psychology Behind Gambling
Engaging in recreational gambling means that not only are you playing against the odds, but you’re also fighting the system skilled in the art of deception and deceit. What starts as an easy-to-walk-away-from game turns out to be so addictive, given that 2% of the American population are problem gamblers.
Gambling is all about psychology, and if you become addicted to it, you can expect increasing anxiety. Thus, understanding the psychology behind the game will help you to avoid the downward spiral of gambling addiction.