Why do we like to Gamble So Much? A New Study Hopes to Find Out Why

Gambling Habits

Gambling has been around forever. When Cain and Abel had a scrap after their mum and dad had been kicked out of the garden of Eden, their other brother Seth was probably running a book on it (the hot favourite Cain won that outcome). Through Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, Medieval Europe and right up to the present day, gambling has been as much a part of human existence as breathing, eating and sleeping.

A study has been commissioned by GambleAware in order to learn more about gambling habits. GambleAware are a not-for-profit organisation in the UK who help people – especially the young – that have a problem with wagering. The study has been undertaken by researchers at the University of Bristol, and the results were released in December, 2019.

Why do we like to gamble anyway?

The ‘thrill’ of wagering is obvious to some, but not so obvious to others. If you are watching a football match, for example, and you put money on the team you want to win, does it make that much difference? You are already into a win-loss contract, as you will be happy if your team wins, and sad if your team loses. Does adding money into the mix really change anything? It does make the win seem much bigger, but there’s the chance too that a loss will be more keenly felt.

There are plenty of reasons why people like to place wagers. For some, it’s in the hope of making an extra steady stream of income. For others it’s just the emotions they feel when they are watching a contest and know they could potentially end up with more money than they started with. For others still, it’s the triggering of reward centres within the brain, and the desire to feel ‘good’.

All three of these aspects come with downsides though – you can lose more money than you win, the ‘bad’ feelings when you lose are just as intense as when you win, and the constant triggering of reward centres in your brain can end up becoming habit-forming and destructive. Gambling is fine as long as you stay honest with yourself and others, and have the ability to recognise when it becomes a problem.

Why do young people like to gamble in particular?

Thanks to gaming (which is different to gambling) children are exposed to wagering from a very early age. While games such as Fortnite are not gambling games in themselves, they have elements where you can up your chances of coming out as a winner or accelerating your progress via in-game purchases. It’s spending money in the hope of a favourable outcome, which is akin to wagering.

As a result, the GambleAware study found that most people now develop gambling habits before the age of 20. In addition, over half of all 17-year-olds in the UK now admit that they indulge in one form of gambling or another.

This percentage figure rises as a person gets older until it peaks at age 20, with 68 percent of people of such an age indulging their wagering habit. It then begins to drop, but at age 24 still two-thirds of people in the UK are gambling.

It is interesting to note what the survey says qualifies as gambling, as it is not just online casinos or sportsbooks that count. For the purposes of the survey purchasing lottery tickets and scratch cards, and even making bets among your friends all counted as ‘gambling’.

Gambling – keeping it within the family

Like violence in the family begats violence in the family, it seems that gambling in the family begats gambling in the family. The survey reported that most people who indulged in any kind of gambling said that their parents, guardians and other family members indulged in gambling too. It seems that once gambling is a part of normal family life, it’s something that touches all members of the family.

In addition, it seems that wagering has a place in the ‘holy trinity’ along with smoking and drinking. If a person drinks more than average, and smokes then they are likely to be gamblers too.

It is already known that there are at least half a million children (aged 16 and under) in the UK whom gamble on a regular basis. That may seem a lot, but the survey revealed that only seven percent of young people who gambled showed types of behaviour likely to spiral into problem gambling later in life.

Here at NewCasinos.org we always encourage you to gamble responsibly. Never gamble with money that you cannot afford to lose, and if your wagering activity stops being fun, then stop doing it.

BONUS READ: NHS Report – People in the UK Still Love to Gamble

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