How come people gamble? Is it really to make money, or is there something else behind it?
We do know that gambling, on an economic point of view, always ends up in a loss. However, even the smartest people who can calculate figures up to the thousandth decimal point still go for their chances to win a hand though the possibility of losing is fairly high. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), around 6 million American adults engage in different forms of betting.
If you would take the view of an economist, gambling really does not make any sense because you’re bound to lose on the table against the dealer one time or another. Even if you visit the best Dutch casino or the most famous casinos in Vegas, you will not have a guaranteed win. But why do people still engage in it? Is gambling really a problem?
There has been a lot of materials explaining how gambling may not really be linked to money. On the contrary, it’s a game created more for enjoyment.
The Concept of Utility
To further understand the concept of gambling, let’s first take a look at the concept of utility. Utility is the measurement of good feeling. One of the main assumptions in economics is utility is directly proportional to wealth. If this makes sense, then for every win we make, we’re supposed to feel happy.
However, as quoted by Matt the Thinking Bettor, the utility will increase as the value of money also increases. In other words, as your winnings increase, the higher your expectations for your income level will be. If you don’t increase your stakes to a higher prize after you get your first winning, then you most likely won’t feel happy. The concept of utility also explains that if you lose everything, then you’ll feel the ultimate feeling of sadness.
Imagine winning your first hundred dollars in gambling. You’ll feel really happy, right? This is simply because it’s your first win, not because of the amount of money. In fact, you will probably feel happier when you win that first hundred dollars than when you claim your third million dollar win.
Every time you have a chance to win a hundred dollars, you will feel an X amount of happiness. However, if you lose all your money in a bet, then you’ll lose more than that X amount of happiness. This gives you an illusion that your loss is always bigger than your gain in gambling.
Why People Gamble
The truth of the matter is that gambling is irrational so there really is no perfect way to explain why people do it. While economics can calculate the behavior of a collective group, it’s very hard to take into consideration the emotional factors behind why people gamble. But when you do try to consider the emotional factors behind gambling, you’ll at least be able to understand it is not 100% destructive.
The Bottom Line
The best way to comprehend why people are pro or against gambling is to try it yourself. When you view the game as a challenge, you will most likely end up loving it.