Nobody likes to lose, not even pathologically obsessed gamblers. And yet they keep on betting. What makes them keep trying their luck?
It may seem that gambling is all about winning, but research shows that it’s not that simple.
No one likes to lose, not even pathologically obsessed gamblers. And yet they keep betting.
So why keep tempting fate when it’s not the gambler who benefits, but the casino?
People with a compelling gambling addiction say that even after a string of losses, they keep returning to the card table or slot machine to experience vivid emotions. It’s all set up with casino digital marketing.
“I wanted to gamble all the time,” the former gambler recalled in a 2013 interview with Scientific American – “I loved the process and the ecstasy I felt when I gambled. A top Wall Street executive recently confessed to defrauding family, friends, and clients out of $100 million.
“I needed the money to satisfy my need to gamble,” he explained in court. But if gambling only brings losses and you can lose your job or home because of gambling addiction, is a short-term pleasure worth such sacrifices?
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Winning is not the main thing
First of all, it should be noted that winning is not the most important thing in this business.
Mark Griffiths, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University and a specialist in behavioral addiction, says gamblers attribute their addiction to a variety of reasons.
A survey of 5,500 gamblers found that their main motive was “to win a lot of money.”
However, arguments such as “it’s fun” and “it’s exciting” followed by a very small margin.
“Even if you lose at gambling, your body produces adrenaline and endorphins,” he says. – “People come to gambling establishments to have fun.
These findings were confirmed by a 2009 study conducted by researchers at Stanford University in California.
They found that about 92% of people have a “loss threshold” at which they stop gambling.
However, the mere fact that they lost money after a visit to a casino, for example, did not necessarily affect their overall gambling experience.
“People seem to be satisfied with relatively small wins and are willing to accept small losses,” says study co-author Shridhar Narayanan. – As a rule, they know they’re more likely to lose than win in the long run.
What’s more, defeat can reinforce the positive
feelings of winning, at least briefly. The reason is that players’ expectations have changed after a string of defeats.
Robb Rutledge, a neuroscientist at University College London, and his colleagues conducted an experiment with 26 people.
People were presented with situations in which they had to make a decision that led to either a certain outcome or an uncertain one – essentially, it was a game.
During the experiment, the participants’ brains were scanned. They were also asked to rate their feelings of pleasure after every second or third attempt.
A similar experiment, but without brain scans, was conducted using a smartphone app called The Great Brain Experiment. More than 18,000 people participated.
This was supported both by their own assessment of the test subjects and by data from brain scans.
Thanks to the scan, the scientists were able to detect increased activity in the area of the brain associated with dopamine neurons.
Dopamine, a complex neurotransmitter, in this case, could cause changes in the emotional state of the participants.
“After a series of defeats, expectations are lowered and the person feels much happier when they finally win,” Rutledge says.
That alone sounds enticing. “If a couple of bad things happen to you in a row and expectations are lowered, and then you manage to do well, the feeling of satisfaction is probably greater,” he explains. – But at that stage, it’s probably worth getting out of the game.
But are devices like slot machines capable of manipulating our minds?