Few traditions have carried on throughout human history as long as gambling. In fact, six-sided dice have been found in Mesopotamia, one of the first civilizations in existence. Estimated to be more than 5,000 years old, it’s a clear indication that the thrill experienced at today’s casinos likely started out from a humble beginning.
Thousands of years since ancient societies presumably wagered things like grain and art, gambling has turned into a $100 billion+ industry on a yearly basis. And it’s only growing.
The idea of making money and not doing any real work is something that people are constantly seeking out. But making money for playing a game that is actually fun and enjoyable? That’s the jackpot.
We often associate certain behaviors with intelligence or social status. The interesting thing about gambling is that it’s enjoyed, sometimes to excess, by people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic standing. Perhaps it’s because all people want to win money while being entertained, even if the dollar amounts are a little different.
When it comes to the media’s portrayal of gambling, it’s often depicted as glamourous, exciting, and something that brings in both members of the opposite sex and large amounts of money. Make no mistake about it, this can happen, but it’s certainly much rarer than the movies would have you believe.
Most people aren’t going to change their lot in life the old fashioned way – hard work and dedication. The garbage man isn’t going to become a CEO, and the used car salesman isn’t going to invent the cure for cancer or write the next best-selling novel. With that being said, either of the two could win a million-dollar jackpot that provides them with the wealth they’ve always desired.
Why do you think the lottery is so popular?
At the end of the day, history has shown us that people will typically chase any opportunity to make a buck. Gambling provides that opportunity in spades, even if there is a very real downside to content with.
2 – The Thrill of It All
Not everyone loves gambling. Each person has his or her own concept of what constitutes reasonable risk tolerance, and for some (probably prudent individuals), betting money in a situation where you’re fighting an uphill battle in terms of probability is not something that sounds like a good idea.
With that being said, there is undoubtedly a huge percentage of the population that does have the stomach for it. If people were entirely risk averse, activities like skydiving, rock climbing, and even roller coasters probably wouldn’t exist.
When it comes to gambling, one of the benefits in terms of the concept of risk is that people can choose their level of risk as they so choose. Just as some people are more apt to make risky choices when it comes to physical activity, those people may also be more inclined to make risky bets while gambling. To these people, the potential reward, be it the adrenaline that comes from extreme sports or the money that comes from a gambling win, makes it all worth it.
3 – Stress Relief
Personally, this one doesn’t make sense to me. When I’m gambling, I find myself in a more stressful state (not necessarily unhappy, just anxious) than I would otherwise. Some individuals, however, use the casino as a form of stress relief. Yes, this can be an indication that gambling has become problematic.
When I say stress relief, I don’t necessarily mean it as something you could compare to meditation or a walk in nature. Instead, I’m talking about it in terms of an escape.
When you’re gambling, especially in a fast-paced environment, you tend to focus on what’s in front of you. Anything else that might be on your mind can wait until you’re finished. This makes gambling a welcome distraction for people looking to avoid other problems in their lives.
What I’ve described above isn’t just theoretical. Science has proven that the escape gambling can provide is similar to that of a drug. This explains why you might notice some people stuck in a trance-like state in front of a slot machine for hours on end.
If you’re using gambling as a way to relieve stress, meaning it calms you down instead of excites you, it’s probably in your best interest to scale back your gambling or seek out help for potential addiction.
4 – Your Brain Can’t Help but Enjoy It
This varies from person to person, but one thing is not up for debate – in that moment when the roulette ball is spinning, the slot machine wheels turning, or any other circumstance where the result of your bet is hanging in the balance, your brain is firing on all cylinders.
Scientists have discovered that endorphins in the brains are released while people are gambling. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t even really matter if you win or lose.
It’s possible that you’ve noticed (I know I have) that when you place a bet, whether it’s on a hand of blackjack or a football game, that the feeling experienced after a win is more relief than joy. Science has proven that the “pleasure chemicals” are most active when you don’t yet know what the result of your bet is going to be.
The main takeaway from this idea is that it’s a little bit easier to see why some people become addicted to gambling even when it seems like they never win. The physiological and psychological attraction that people have toward gambling isn’t about winning money, but about experiencing that excitement of not knowing which way the dice is going to land.
In order to avoid some of the problems that can be associated with gambling, it’s important to recognize this. If you find yourself gambling constantly, even if you’re losing, it might be time to take a few weeks off.
5 – Socialization
Sports bettors have long understood that there’s just something about being in the company of other people while collectively rooting for a particular outcome. This phenomenon is seen in sports bars across the world on a daily basis.
What often gets lost in the gambling conversation is that for some, it’s simply something to do to feel like part of the group. When you go to a casino, every gambler is playing against the house. In that way, it’s easy to feel like everyone is on the same team – a nice sentiment.
Stand around a blackjack table, or observe players living and dying with each throw in craps. It is in many ways both heart-warming and quite frankly, disheartening, how quickly a group of complete strangers can come together when there’s the chance of winning money.
Just as with any other hobby, people develop groups of friends within the structure of their favorite activities. This can make it difficult for somebody to stop making trips to the casino, even when they know it’s probably the right move to stay home.
The idea of socialization isn’t just seen in gambling. Things like drinking at bars, smoking cigarettes, and even harder drug use all have a group component that makes it hard to stop.
In all facets of life, communities are difficult to leave. Once you’ve developed a bond with a group, the natural inclination is to see it through. This has both saved people from compulsions, and caused them to continue.
Throughout the course of human history, few activities have stood the test of time like gambling. As technology improves and laws and regulations start to become more relaxed, it’s not unreasonable to think the next millennium will see gambling become even further intertwined with the human experience.
With that comes its share of risks, but also the chance for a lucky few to hit it big. At the end of the day, just like any other “vice”, gambling can add a little spice to life as long as it’s done responsibly.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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