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Why do people gamble?

 
 
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2014 11:53 pm
From a psychological point of view, I'm wondering what primitive part of our reptilian brains is fed by gambling... it seems to exist throughout history in most cultures, so I suspect it appeals to a fundamental aspect of human nature.
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2014 01:11 am
Without at all subscribing to vague speculations about "reptilian" brains, i'd say the basic appeal is the prospect of getting something for nothing. I am not at all so foolish as not to understand that one is not going to get something for nothing, but i'd say that greed is as old as humanity, while mathematics is still not widely understood.
Lordyaswas
 
  2  
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2014 01:32 am
The whole something for nothing sounds about right, Set, but there is also "the dream". The slight chance that an ordinary person can have untold wealth thrust their way is enough incentive to part with a dollar/pound/euro or two each week.
If people actually worked out the odds against winning a state or national lottery it would make very little difference, I feel, as the sheer overwhelming amount of money to be won trumps all logic.


It's all very well when people only have a flutter that they can easily afford each week, but when it gets serious and their personal lives get affected, that's when it all turns nasty.

I had a work mate many moons ago who would get paid on Friday, go straight from work to the local Men's Club and play poker all evrning until he'd either won a bit (rarely) or, more often than not, lost it all.

In the end his wife used to meet him as he left the building on a Friday, and take his wage packet. If he managed to slip by her and go to the club, she would then feed herself and their two young girls as best she could, but serve him up a single hard boiled egg each mealtime.
She was a big built, formidable Kerry woman who could swear like a trooper and stood no nonsense, so he knew he could never complain about the hard boiled egg because she would give as much as she got.




Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2014 01:47 am
@Lordyaswas,
Quote:
If people actually worked out the odds against winning a state or national lottery it would make very little difference, I feel, as the sheer overwhelming amount of money to be won trumps all logic.


There you have it in a nut shell. It's also a great way for government to get extra revenue without actually being seen to tax the poor and the delusional.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Nov, 2014 02:18 am
Trying to find out has the bigger god?
0 Replies
 
Banana Breath
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2014 08:39 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
i'd say the basic appeal is the prospect of getting something for nothing


If this were all there was to gambling's appeal, I would think the same people would also compulsively be entering supermarket sweepstakes and trying their samples of frozen egg rolls, since these are also free things, yet those seem to be two quite different personality profiles.
Kolyo
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 Nov, 2014 12:15 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
It's also a great way for government to get extra revenue without actually being seen to tax the poor and the delusional.


I think delusionality is the key. People see themselves as special, endowed with special destinies. In how many stories do you hear about people gambling their dollar, making themselves a dollar poorer and going on with their lives? Certainly not a million times as often as you hear about someone winning a jackpot. But that's what an accurate representation of the odds of success would require.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2014 04:03 am
@Banana Breath,
In fact, you see that type of behavior all the time. People compulsively clip coupons, keep elaborate files of them, and then use them, often when the claim that they are saving money is dubious. Back in the 1980s, when it was common to seek free food samples handed out in supermarkets, it worked a treat--the stores were crowded every Saturday morning. I see no great distinction between gambling and coupon-clipping. Probably the only significant difference is the aspect of risk-taking for the compulsive gambler. But most gambling is the foolishness of speind five or ten dollars a week on lottery tickets when the odds against one are millions to one.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2014 04:05 am
Lordy's comment about "the dream" is well taken--and as Kolyo emphasizes, self-delusion is the operative motivator.
0 Replies
 
knaivete
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2014 05:27 am
@Banana Breath,
Quote:
Why do people gamble?


I bet it's because they fancy the odds.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odds
0 Replies
 
HesDeltanCaptain
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2015 10:32 am
@Banana Breath,
Because usually when you gamble you lose, and in an indirect way that loss enables a positive emotion called hope for the next try. Feelings that sense of hope, expectation, anticipation, etc. is very positive. And for those who gamble, the only way they know to get that rush of posivity is by gambling.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2015 10:45 am
@HesDeltanCaptain,
Not true at all. You can gamble in such a way that you win more than you lose.

I do just that.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2015 10:52 am
@Banana Breath,
Everyone here is negative on gambling (there is a persistent puritanical disapproval of gambling in modern Western Cultures). Let's make the obvious counter points.

1) Gambling, as making bets in a casino or on sports, involves playing a game. It is fun. There are millions of people who gamble as as a game and enjoy every minute of it.

2) Gambling, in general, is the taking a risk for a possible significant reward. This is an evolved behaviour. People who start businesses are gamblers. People who set off in ships to find new lands to explore were gamblers. People who buy houses are gamblers.

Human progress is made by gamblers.



Banana Breath
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 12:14 am
@maxdancona,
While there are risks inherent in most activities, it seems to me most people take steps to minimize those risks. Driving can be dangerous, but having airbags, wearing safety belts, and obeying the laws minimizes those risks. Buying a house involves risks, but insurance helps minimize those risks as well.
There's another side to gambling however which is not merely taking risks, but rather bluffing, as in poker. Here one is not merely using a random number generator to reduce one's fortune, but instead using skill and psychology to gain an advantage over other players. I think such skills should be an essential part of a president's or ambassador's repertoire. Why drop bombs if you can merely bluff and achieve the same or better results?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 09:28 am
@Banana Breath,
I gamble to minimize risk.

I have made a bet on my own life. If I die in the next 10 years or so I win several hundred thousand dollars (actually my children win it). I am paying a relatively small amount every month to buy into this bet.

I gladly make this bet (even though the odds are against me) because it minimizes the chance that my children will have financial difficulty should I die before they are grown.

Banana Breath
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 11:27 am
@maxdancona,
I think gambling in the more widespread sense of the word is more akin to playing Russian roulette. You walk in with full health and life, pull the trigger and there's a one-in-six chance of reducing your health and life to zero. Similarly I think people understand that on a good day playing slot machines, you lose less than on a bad day.
http://www.casino.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/deer-hunter.jpg
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 11:57 am
@Banana Breath,
Now you are just being silly. Of the tens of millions of people who play slot machines, an extremely small number of them die while doing so.

In this sense, driving your kid to the mall is far more dangerous than gambling is.

Do you pay for life insurance Banana Breath?

Banana Breath
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 01:34 pm
@maxdancona,
I think there's a difference between risk, which is inevitable in life, and which we take steps to mitigate, and gambling, which involves voluntarily risking something you don't have to with established odds that are against you. I don't view insurance as gambling, it's an expense of absolutely known cost that reduces rather than increases risk.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2015 02:00 pm
@Banana Breath,
Many people will put a couple of dollars in a slot machine just for run. That isn't risking something "you don't have". In that case are risking something you do have for a chance of a bigger payoff and a few minutes of fun.

There is responsible gambling and there is irresponsible gambling. You shouldn't confuse the two.

I have done quite a bit of gambling. I have never risked anything that I didn't have (and wasn't perfectly fine with losing).
0 Replies
 
CameronWebber
 
  0  
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2017 08:13 am
@Banana Breath,
For me it's simple, the buzz of winning!!
 

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