12 Apr

What Causes Addictive Gambling? Thoughts From a Doctor’s Perspective

There is no 100% consensus on what causes gamblers to be addictive, or rather what causes people to be addictive in general, but there are some generalities such as compulsiveness and the yearning for quick rewards, according to Doctor Mark Kern, Director of Addiction Alternatives. He says those generalities, however, are something that casinos draw off and exacerbate, causing gamblers to want more.

The way casinos can draw off people in such a manner is through a means called variable reinforcement, or through means that make players believe they will continue to make money when playing. A player, for example, may put in $1 and win $3. Since that player made $2 on the bet, chances are they are willing to put at least one of those dollars back in and try again. If that player then loses that dollar the player will still believe they can make more money from the remaining winning dollar and then run the risk of failing again. If that is the case the player actually ends up losing again and breaks even and could then choose to walk away if he or she is smart. However, in most cases the player may only win half of that last winning dollar and still believe that the machine is warming up or getting ready to pay out again. Following this you have $1.50 left, then what happens? Chances are you try another dollar bet, because that is the minimum and then you lose again. You are now down to $0.50 and technically have lost half the money you started with. This may seem small, but on a larger scale could be much worse.

Some machines play like this in land-based casinos. They lift you up at one point and then bring you down, says Kern. Knowing when and how it will happen is hard to tell though, as sometimes one may happen more than the other. Knowing this, however, is half the battle in to letting one’s addictive personality or tendencies get in the way when it comes to gambling, the doctor said, adding that people need to know that such rewards are hard to quantify and that you should not get too caught up in getting greedy in your playing.

And addictive gambling seems to arise from that-getting too caught up in it for the wrong reasons and locking oneself in desperate measures-at least, that is what appears to be the general consensus in the medical field.

The game itself doesn’t have to be that way, and can be viewed as a simple leisure experience, so the attitude you bring to the table will determine your experience. If people can know when to quit and not be enthralled with intangible results then perhaps they can walk away from gambling. It’s more of an overall mindset that needs to be applied to daily life in general and extends to the gaming industry, noted Kern.

Casinos do have to make money from their customers, otherwise they would be out of business and there would be no place for gamblers to go, so in some way casinos are also a bi-product of consumer/gaming culture. Also, if casinos didn’t exist would people be gambling? Many people gamble outside of registered land-based venues because they think it’s fun and interesting or because they think they can get rich quickly. Whatever it is, this stems from cultural, social and economic reasons that may have produced such a person to have those feelings in the first place, which is a whole other topic of discussion worth thinking about when it comes to thinking about how people become addicted to gambling, but it’s worth the mention.

But Kern added that gambling in general takes advantage of the desperateness one yearns for in fulfilling their desires to gain money. But if we think about it, doesn’t the stock market do that? I could argue that the stock market is the biggest gambling center on earth as it is based off intangible results in the market. Granted, there are many calculations that mathematicians and economists use to calculate the market but it’s not entirely scientific and solid due to the many factors that influence the stock market. The stock market is basically based off the notion that people throw money in hoping to gain back more but it is no guarantee. The only difference if that there are degrees associated with these practices while in fact they are rooted no differently.

If you think about it like this way then the line between what causes addictive behavior, particularly with money, is a thin one, for it comes from the mentality associated with expectations put into it. If thought objectively, gambling such as online Pokies or whatever doesn’t have to be addictive rather understood and observed more in depth.

However, casinos should be more responsible for providing numbers and accurate information as to the probability of one winning. If that is done perhaps certain players who have addictive tendencies will stay back or those who are thinking of starting to play will be more reserved.