What Makes Gambling Addictive?


For thousands of people all over the world, visiting a land-based casino or an online gambling site is no different from visiting an amusement park and paying for a rollercoaster ride. At its heart, gambling is no different from all the other activities that allow you to exchange money for quality entertainment. In fact, it can get quite cheap if you stick to safe betting strategies and you take your time and play slow.

However, it’s also worth remembering that players shouldn’t really expect to win, particularly in the long term, as there’s no denying the fact that the house always has an edge. This edge simply can’t be negated even if you use a complicated betting system – if it could, running a casino would stop being a profitable business and we’d have nowhere to play after a month or two. If long-term profits are pretty much out of the equation, what really makes people gamble and why is gambling considered to be so addictive?

Studies show that most men prefer to play for the adrenaline rush or even to confirm their masculinity, while women choose to gamble for the social aspect of playing casino games. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that the online casino audience is predominantly male, as online versions of those games generally don’t allow you to interact with the other players as much as a real brick and mortar gambling establishment would.

Furthermore, psychological research indicates that all human beings tend to be more interested in activities that offer inconsistent rewards. Regardless of our gender or social background, we tend to stick to the forms of entertainment that involve unexpected outcomes as long as they’re safe and we’re capable of keeping them under control. Slot machines and classic table games are an excellent illustration for this concept – the payouts they give are completely unpredictable, so many people are inclined to keep playing and chasing the next big win even if they understand that they’re losing money over time.

In fact, real-life casino evidence indicates that even when a player hits a major, life-changing jackpot, he or she is more than likely to actually return to playing the same progressive slot machine within minutes from winning the game. Obviously, there aren’t all that many rational reasons to keep playing – the jackpot has been reset to the seed amount and your pockets are filled with money. Nevertheless, most jackpot winners simply prefer to keep going for an hour or two, because for them the game simply isn’t exclusively about cash.

Unfortunately, there’s no denying the fact that there are many compulsive gamblers, who play because of an addiction which is beyond their control. Those players often play at stakes they can’t afford, which often ends with a chargeback request and is one of the reasons online casinos aren’t all that happy about new players making massive first deposits that exceed $5,000 or so.

Fortunately, problem gamblers can stop if they seek help – treatment usually involves step-based programs, motivational interviewing and peer support groups. Online gambling sites are actually actively supporting organizations like Gamblers Anonymous to assist problem gamblers in overcoming their compulsive behavior. Even better, some research indicates that as many as one-third of pathological gamblers ultimately deal with the addiction by natural recovery.

Most casino sites allow their players to set weekly betting limits that won’t allow them to place unreasonable wagers when they’re put on tilt or become caught up in the heat of the moment. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that some prescription drugs might encourage gambling behavior – for example, certain types of meds used to treat Parkinson’s Disease may lead to compulsive gambling problems. In such a case, switching to a different medication is usually enough to put the person in question back in control.

Another reason gambling might become really addictive is the amount of strategizing and learning that some casino games, like Poker and Blackjack, require. Quite obviously, anyone can play them, but reaching the optimal return to player rates takes considerable effort and dedication.

As a result, some people might really enjoy seeing their results gradually improve, particularly if they manage to score a really juicy win from time to time – especially if it wouldn’t have been possible without following proper strategy in the first place. Furthermore, this kind of approach can allow you to play the games really cheap, as betting about $1 per a hand of Blackjack will rarely cost you more than $2 per hour and might actually result in some neat short-term profits.

In the case of online casinos, the costs of playing the games become even smaller, as most sites allow you to place lower minimum bets than their land-based counterparts. Once you realize how advantageous all the lucrative bonuses are for this style of play, it becomes fairly obvious why online casino sites have so many returning customers these days.