Each of us, individually and in our society, sees gambling very differently. Some see it as harmless fun while others see it as a dangerous vice that ought to have strict controls, if not banned completely. Yet people continue to gamble. For the majority of players it is not problematic. Here is a handful of reasons why so many people play table games, slot machines and lotteries.
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For the Sheer Pleasure
It is a global pastime without boundaries. For many people who play purely for the pleasure, it is like any other hobby – like sport, video games, or going to the movies. For those who play for the pleasure, they expect to lose the money they spend and budget accordingly. After all, nobody expects to win money visiting a cinema. For these people, it is a hobby and nothing more, or simply a form of escapism, just like any other form of harmless entertainment.
For The Thrill of Winning
Research suggests that winning money while gambling creates a chemical release in the brain that leads to excitement. It is a little like a “runner’s high” or that feeling of ecstasy and euphoria when we disembark a white-knuckle ride. This chemical release is a genuine psychological phenomenon. Call it an adrenaline rush if you like, but winning can create this feeling in the brain. It doesn’t matter how much this type of player wins – a few pennies is just as exciting as a life-changing sum of money
For The Thrill of the Risk
Others may enjoy the thrill of the risk and experience this adrenaline rush while playing. They may feel a sense of euphoria and calm at the end, regardless of whether or not they have won. For this group of players, the thrill is in the risk –not in the winning. Similarly to those people who get a kick out of rollercoasters or hang gliding, snowboarding etc., these people may be “adrenaline junkies” of a sort but do not get their thrills from putting their bodies at risk through physical activity.
For The Challenge
As JFK once said “we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” That sums up humanity in a single sentence. We are great problem solvers and many of us relish a challenge. The challenge in gambling is to beat the system –the bookmaker, the slot machine, the dealer, the house, the table, the other players. It’s not the thrill of playing, nor the thrill of winning, but the thrill of conquering something. Gambling is high risk and low yield and it is that which attracts some players.
For The Glamorous Lifestyle
There are two elements to this. Firstly, the media (books, television, and film) portray a life of glamour in gambling. We see it in films such as Casino Royale. Casino settings are used to sell perfume and aftershave. On the other hand, we are promised a life of glamour after winning. Adverts for lotteries, bingo and other forms of gambling promise untold riches and a lifestyle that goes beyond affluent. The chance of winning millions is a big draw for some players.
Because They Are Addicted
Finally, the reason some people gamble is that they cannot stop. Addiction can take several forms. Some become addicted to the thrill; others become addicted to the need to win money to make up the losses. Either way, these people gamble because they can’t not gamble. Addiction is a problem, but thankfully, it only affects a small number of gamblers. Most studies suggest that between 4% and 6% of regular players become addicted.