Why Gambling Is Addictive


Gambling involves a wager on something of value that has the potential to yield a prize win. This can happen in a casino, racetrack or even at gas stations. Gambling also happens in the form of betting on sports and events, or purchasing scratchcards. Regardless of where and how gambling occurs, it has benefits and costs that affect people at three levels – personal, interpersonal, and community/society.

While some people enjoy gambling for financial reasons, others may play to socialize or unwind. In fact, some research suggests that many gamblers are motivated by the desire to find status and specialness, which casinos promote through elaborate marketing and rewards programs [3]. However, there are healthier and more effective ways of soothing unpleasant feelings or relieving boredom such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

It’s important to understand why gambling is addictive before you decide whether it is for you or not. Gambling addiction works because it hijacks the brain’s learning mechanism through partial reinforcement. In other words, gambling is enjoyable at first but after a few sessions the pleasure fades. This is because the brain becomes accustomed to the repetitive behavior and stops responding as it once did.

In addition, gambling often gives the illusion of control, a feeling that is exacerbated by human’s innate need to feel in control. People may try to manipulate the odds by throwing dice in a certain way, sitting in a certain seat or wearing a lucky shirt in order to feel more in control.