For centuries, gambling has maintained its position as one of the most popular pastimes. With the advent of online gambling, its popularity has grown to even bigger heights in recent times. A 2020 survey by the Statista Research Department showed that over 44% of the US population was involved in some form of gambling. The figure was as high as 59% and 47% for countries like Italy and Australia respectively.
However, gambling goes beyond what we see or do. It’s not just about playing your favorite games after you find your perfect online casino on CasinoUSA.com or walking into a betting house and placing bets; there are lots of psychological factors that come into place. Knowing these factors and understanding the varying psychologies behind gambling can help you make more informed decisions in your gambling journey. Here, we look to explore some of those psychologies and their effects.
Understanding Risk and Reward
How you enjoy gambling is closely related to how the brain’s reward system operates. Precisely, the effect of gambling on your brain’s dopamine levels is one of the reasons you enjoy it so much. When you take risks, like wagering on your favorite casino games, the body releases adrenaline, increasing your heart rate and making you feel more alert, focused, and energized. When you eventually strike gold, dopamine is released into your bloodstream, and the result is usually rewarding and pleasure-filled.
This is exactly why most people gamble. The adrenaline rush after placing the wager and the dopamine released after a successful one makes it easier for people to gamble without a second thought. It’s also the reason why there are lots of gambling addicts out there today. Over time, these problem gamblers get addicted to this rush and release it until it gets to a point where the brain reward system gets worn out. At this stage, betting the same amounts doesn’t produce the same rush of dopamine as it used to, and players are forced to bet extra amounts to actually enjoy gambling.
This process continues until the player spirals out of control and falls into a deep hole of gambling addiction. Getting back from this stage can be very difficult, and since the release of dopamine is similar to that of drug usage, trying to stop gambling abruptly might cause withdrawal symptoms. Gamblers who get to this stage usually need drugs or professional help.
The Psychology of Gambling
Now that we’ve seen the effects of gambling on the brain and how the brain’s risk and reward systems play a major role in how we enjoy gambling, let’s explore the psychological aspect of gambling and what motivates and affects people’s gambling behavior.
Being one of the oldest pastime activities, gambling has always been an excellent way for people to socialize and make new friends. Most gambling games are usually played in groups where players can interact amongst themselves and also have fun conversations. Even with the prevalence of online gambling, there are now multiple sites that support live gambling where players can connect and interact with other players from around the globe.
Gambling is an idea of fun to some people and can be the way they unwind, kill boredom, or escape the sometimes harsh reality of life. It’s the same way people watch movies, play games, or take hikes. It provides some form of temporary distraction and comfort, creating a sense of relaxation or relief.
3. Source of Money
Ultimately, a vast majority of people who gamble do so for financial gain. This is common among both problem and occasional gamblers and is partly fueled by the occasional gambling success stories they see or hear. Some individuals also take gambling as a profession, and it’s their sole source of income.
The Dark Side of Gambling
The dark sides of gambling addiction are numerous and can be disastrous to gamblers and the people around them. Here are some of the physical and physiological effects of gambling.
Physical Side Effects of Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction can lead to financial problems, involvement in crimes, and damage to the gambler’s personal relationships. Most times, the financial consequences are usually colossal and include bad credit, legal challenges, and bankruptcy.
Also, addictive gambling can trigger other problems like excessive drinking, smoking, drug abuse, overeating, and unhealthy lifestyles. It can also negatively affect other aspects of the person’s life, like academics, work, and general living.
Psychological Side Effects of Gambling Addiction
Gambling involves a great deal of psychology and emotions. From the pure bliss that comes from winning to the cheerfulness of socializing, the effects go beyond the physical. So do the side effects.
Gambling has been proven to cause other negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, stress, and regret. These signs might not all come at once or in full force, but over time, they silently build up and can start to affect other areas of life. Over time, the gambler might begin to notice reduced work or school performance, feelings of distress and hopelessness, and general relationship conflicts.
The Bottom Line
Gambling is an exciting way to relax, socialize, and enjoy oneself. However, there are lots of psychological factors that come into play when we gamble, and here, we looked to explore some of them as well as the things that motivate people to gamble.
We also covered some of the physical and psychological effects of gambling addiction. Ultimately, it’s up to the casinos and gambling houses to enlighten gamblers on the importance of responsible gambling and also for gambling addicts to seek professional help as soon as they notice things getting out of control.