For someone who isn’t suffering from or seeking out help for gambling addiction, it can be hard to see the appeal. All gambling games are probability games, which means whether it is blackjack with a live dealer, a flashy 3D slot machine, or a lottery ticket purchased from a local gas station, they are all just very fancy representations of a random number generator. There is no skill and very little strategy required to win. And no amount of skill that will really do much for your chances. Even in the games that allow for choices like blackjack and craps, there is a statistically correct line of play and deviating from it lowers your payback over time. So why are they so compelling? Because the industry and the games employ a number of psychological tools to trick your brain into thinking that it is getting something for nothing.
The main psychological trick is to make your losses seem small and your wins seem enormous. A generous slot machine in Las Vegas has a return of 95%. No one would play a game where you put a dollar in the machine and it gives you 95 cents back every time. But if instead you had a chance to win a dime, a quarter, a dollar, one hundred or one thousand dollars, then it’s a more compelling form of entertainment and eventually can feed off of obsession and addiction. The vast majority of the time you’ll be winning dimes, far less than the first machine, but the hundred dollar wins are super exciting and it’s always possible that the next play will be the one makes you thousands of dollars in prize money. This series of ups and downs is sometimes called ‘the ride’ and designers work hard to make sure you always feel like you’re coming out ahead even when you’re losing big.
In slot machines, the reels are often weighted such that it appears that your result was super close to a huge payout, even though statistically the distinction is meaningless. Table games like blackjack and craps have a human dealer trained to act as friendly encouragement through wins and losses, and to emphasize wins and console through losses (and as insult to injury you’re expected to tip them).
Casinos give away free drinks and other perks to increase the feeling that you’re living the high life, when all those costs are covered by the gambling with room to spare. These free drinks combined with the up and downs of gambling addiction leaves an opening to alcohol and drug addiction. One addiction often feeds right into the other.
Fun in Losing
Businesses in the gambling industry are masters of making losing fun and giving players a false sense of control over randomness. Even if gambling doesn’t appeal to you personally, the fact that it is an over 75 billion dollar industry in the US alone shows that there are many people who are hooked on ‘the ride’.
If you or someone you know are seeking out gambling addiction help contact our gambling addiction treatment center today at (855) 441-2449. Get off the ride, get help for gambling addiction, and get out from under the financial and psychological burden that is gambling addiction.