Most people assume that those who gamble do so in the hope of a big win. Financial motivation is seen as the main driving force for sports betting, playing cards for cash or taking part in casino games. Players might even say that it’s the chance of winning money that keeps them going back for more. But while it’s true that large sums of money can often be won at poker, on slots or at table games, it is only half the story.
Money isn’t everything
Anyone who gambles regularly knows that you lose more than you win. The house always has the advantage, and consistently coming out ahead is a rare thing. Nevertheless, many people keep playing purely because they enjoy doing so.
Most players when they do win money reinvest it in the game. Very few quit while they’re ahead, not because they’re fools but because they enjoy playing. They are fully aware that they’ll most likely lose the money they’ve just won, but bet it again because this is what they like doing, and this experience is what they want to spend their disposable income on.
The scientific explanation
Whether you’re having a night out in Atlantic City or playing at home at an NJ online casino, endorphins in the brain are released when gambling. Note that this isn’t dependent on winning or losing: the pleasure-giving chemicals are generated by the state of uncertainty when you don’t know what the outcome will be.
Gambling itself is a pleasurable activity. We enjoy the risk and the anticipation of a win arguably more than the win itself. It’s the state of tension and not knowing that we crave, and this can be enhanced by environmental factors: the flashing lights, music and other sounds generated by a slot machine, or the particular atmosphere of a poker room.
The stress factor
For many people, gambling is a therapeutic form of stress relief. You can forget about your everyday troubles, either by concentrating on your poker tactics or giving yourself up to the random outcome of a roulette wheel or slot machine. Moderate gambling can be enjoyed as part of a wide range of leisure activities and used as an effective way to unwind and relax.
Many would reply that gambling is stressful, and that not knowing if you’re going to win or lose, with a sum of money riding on the outcome, is a condition bound to make you tense and anxious. If we think about it though, it’s clear that many activities we enjoy are stressful in different ways. Tension is built up in anticipation of release, but once we have that release, we soon crave the tension all over again.
An absorbing interest
Gambling can simply be an interest or a hobby like anything else. It can be the foundation for a shared, social experience that makes you feel part of a scene or a community. Poker players know that you can study and research the subject endlessly if you so wish. Whether you meet friends face to face to play together or prefer the convenience of a 24/7 casino site, gambling is about far more than winning.