Why do people gamble?

Whether we are talking about online pokies, keno, poker, regular pokies, casino games or any other kind of gambling, there are all sorts of reasons that people gamble. Some people have different motivations at different times, or even at the same time, while some others are always driven by one particular motivation. Below we have outlined what we believe to be the most common motives.

To win a bit of extra money: Obviously, this is up there on any list of motivations for gambling. And everyone has heard those stories of people hitting the jackpot or winning the lottery. It certainly can and does happen, and it could happen to you. So long as you keep the odds and the reality in your mind, you enjoy yourself regardless of the outcome, and you don’t bet more than you can afford to lose, then go for it!

Just to have fun: For lots of people, it is not even really about the money – or at least not only about the money. For many people who gamble regularly or occasionally, the experience is more about the thrill and excitement you get from rolling the dice or spinning the wheel – that rush of adrenaline you get when you take a risk that might just pay off for you. There are strong emotional highs and lows that are associated with gambling, and are in fact one of the reasons that some people get addicted to gambling.

Just got that “lucky” feeling: Whether you are buying a lottery ticket, playing the pokies online or in a pub or in a casino, or even simply playing a bit of bingo, lots of people gamble because they are “feeling lucky”. Just think about it – how many time have you taken a chance on something just because you had a good feeling about the way it would turn out?

Financial needs: Some people gamble to try to meet their financial needs. This is highly dangerous, unhealthy and extremely unlikely to succeed. We cannot advise against this practise enough. It is telling that many of the people who are gambling to try to get themselves out of financial trouble are in that financial trouble in the first place because of gambling. Gambling should only ever be a recreational activity, unless you are one of the very few people who can consistently win at games that are skills-based, such as poker. Note that NO-ONE can consistently win at pokies or other games of chance. You should also always be able to afford to lose the full amount you gamble. If you are in financial trouble then you obviously cannot do this.

Some social interaction: Some people really love the relaxing and exciting atmosphere of a casino or a pub, and it can be a great place to socialise with friends or family, or even to meet new people. Gambling locations nearly always offer other attractions like restaurants, bars and sometimes live music or DJs, so you can work a bit of gambling into a fun social evening.

Escape from daily reality: Life can often become very boring and mundane, and people sometimes look for ways to escape the dreariness of their daily reality. Gambling can often provide a bit of excitement, and a brief means of escaping from your daily life- whether what you are escaping from is a simple case of boredom or more serious unhappiness. This is all well and good to a point, but as we state above, we recommend that gambling should be used only as recreation. If you are simply having a bit of entertainment, that is one thing, but if you find yourself consistently avoiding your home life, or your unpleasant emotions through gambling, we would suggest that you take a break and try to find other ways of “escaping” - or better yet, you face up to the problems you are having and get past them. Trust us, if you are feeling a little down, racking up a huge gambling debt is not going to lift your spirits.

Relaxation: Gambling can be a fantastic way to unwind, relax and let your hair down. There are many stresses in modern lief and gambling can really help in letting you forget these stresses and enjoy yourself. Keep it casual and fun, and it is a good idea to combine gambling with other forms of recreation, like watching movies, reading books, playing sport and hanging out with friends. Gambling is great fun while it is in your control. Keep this in mind to make sure gambling remains a means of relaxation and doesn’t turn into a source of stress.

To support a worthwhile cause: Often charities offer opportunities to place a bet or have a gamble. This can be a great way to gamble, as if you win, well, then hey – you won. But if you lose, your money has not gone into the already overflowing coffers of some huge casino conglomerate. Instead, it has gone to support a good cause. This can be that added motivation some people need to place a bet.

Gambling addiction: The dark side to recreational gambling is of course gambling addiction. The consequences can be devastating, and not just for you, but also for your family and friends. We strongly recommend that anyone who is wondering if they have a gambling problem read our “signs or problem gambling” page, and, if you believe you do have a problem, seek professional help immediately. There are free counselling services Australia-wide that can help set you free from your addiction. Check our “What to do if I have a gambling problem” page for telephone numbers and other helpful suggestions.

So, as you can see, there are all sorts of reasons that people like to gamble. While some people are in it for the money only, there are many more people who have other motivations. While some are dangerous, such as problem gambling and gambling to try to meet financial needs, most often it is just a bit of fun.