The Big Question: Why Do People Gamble?



In this article, find out why people spend time playing games such as online slots, and other forms of gambling.

The Big Question: Why Do People Gamble?

Gambling has been here for a long time. The earliest forms of gambling can be traced back to the Paleolithic period. According to statistics, the global commercial gambling industry raked in over $44 billion in 2021. Interestingly, over 85% of Americans have gambled at least once in their lifetime. This begs the question, why do people gamble?

Well, several reasons explain why people gamble. Perhaps the most significant of them all is the psychological aspect.


The Illusion of Control

The illusion of control is defined as the tendency of humans to overestimate how much control they have over uncontrollable events. As named by US psychologist Ellen Langer, the illusion of control tends to influence gambling behavior the most. It is among the positive illusions together with optimism bias and illusory superiority.

In Langer's research, craps gamblers threw the dice harder when targeting high numbers and soft for low numbers. This is a perfect example of the illusion of control. However, the truth is that how the die is rolled does not influence the outcome. But the player naturally believes they can influence the outcome. The same phenomenon has been witnessed on slots machines in brick & mortar casinos and online slots casinos as well.

According to psychologists, two aspects lead to the illusion of control. The first is personal choice. This is where gamblers actively participate in the game, for example, spinning the reels in Book of Dead slots. This gives players the illusion of having control over the game's outcome. The other is near misses in slots, where players miss the jackpot narrowly. Near misses happen with medium frequency and instill false confidence in players as previous results do not influence future results.


Gambler's Fallacy

The illusion of control is similar to the gambler's fallacy which refers to a situation where gamblers strongly believe that previous outcomes influence the odds of a future outcome. It's common to see gamblers in a casino, moving from one slots machine to another. The belief here is that now that one machine is 'cold 'and the second machine is 'hot,' it's better to play at a hot machine because of the previous outcomes. But, of course, it doesn't work that way!


Gambling can be addictive

Another reason people gamble is that gambling can be addictive. Wagering on casino games such as slots arouses an adrenaline rush which is a natural high for many gamblers. The excitement of the risk is also an excellent way to unwind. What's more? Gambling at brisk & mortar casinos and live slots casino lobbies is also a way of mingling and making friends.


Wrapping Up

That's it, folks, a detailed explanation of why many people gamble. Besides the above reasons, there is a set of gamblers who have made it a career. But this is against responsible gambling rules; gambling shouldn't substitute work or school.

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