Can Understanding Why We Gamble Help Prevent Problem Gambling?

Have you ever found yourself captivated by the electrifying excitement of a gamble, whether it’s a roll of the dice, a round of poker, or a horse race? Have you ever stopped to ponder what drives us, as humans, to engage in such risky activities? More importantly, could understanding these motivations be the key to preventing problem gambling?

In our world, opportunities to gamble are more abundant and accessible than ever, and it’s important to understand why we’re drawn to this form of entertainment. Believe it or not, a proper understanding of our motivations can go a long way to preventing some of the biggest risks of gambling for those who may not be engaging in the activity just “for the fun of it.” 

Why Do People Gamble?

Remember, gambling isn’t inherently a bad thing. People can gamble for plenty of reasons, and odds are some of us have dabbled in gambling in some form. Even simply betting on your favorite pencil in 4th grade or taking the risk that you won’t miss the bus by grabbing an extra snack before you leave the house is a form of gambling. But WHY we gamble is a bigger question to answer, especially regarding the most common forms of gambling today. The “why” can provide clear insight into our likelihood to engage in future behaviors that might be difficult to recover from.


For many, gambling serves as a cure for boredom. With the advent of online casinos and mobile betting apps, it’s never been easier to fill idle moments with the thrill of placing a bet. However, this easy access can also lead to frequent gambling, which can potentially escalate into problem gambling.

Social Reasons

Gambling is often a social activity. From poker nights with friends to a day at the racetrack, these events provide an opportunity to bond with others. Gambling with real money also makes moments more enjoyable. Games feel more competitive, as you have an added draw that the game itself otherwise won’t bring. 

To Cope With Their Emotions

Some people use gambling as a way to deal with negative emotions. The excitement of the game can temporarily distract from feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression. But using gambling as an emotional crutch is VERY risky and can lead to problem gambling over time.

They Enjoy the Risk

The thrill of the risk is a significant draw for some gamblers. The adrenaline rush associated with the uncertainty of winning or losing can be exhilarating. It’s the same reason we love rollercoasters, going caving, or doing other heart-pounding activities. Sometimes, that risk can lead to very exciting rewards.

Financial Reasons

For some, the prospect of a big win and the financial freedom it could bring is a strong motivator. Yet, the odds are always in favor of the house, and this dream rarely comes true. This drive can lead to problem gambling, especially when one is trying to recoup losses.

The Reason You Gamble Can Play a Role in How Gambling Further Impacts Your Life

When one thinks of gambling, the thrill of winning big often comes to mind. But have you ever stopped to ponder why you’re drawn to this high-stakes pastime? The motives behind your gambling habits can significantly influence how it continues to shape your life. 

As discussed above, for some people, gambling serves as a form of escapism, providing temporary relief from the stresses of everyday life. For others, it’s a social activity — a way to bond with friends and meet new people. Then, there are those who are fueled by the adrenaline rush that comes with the uncertainty and potential rewards. These varying reasons can lead to different outcomes and consequences.

If you gamble for the thrill, the risk is that the need for bigger adrenaline rushes might push you to stake higher, potentially leading to financial troubles. On the other hand, if you gamble to escape, you might find yourself increasingly reliant on it to cope with stress, potentially leading to a reliance on gambling to fuel your emotions. While many positive outcomes can come from gambling, you must be aware of why you’re doing it. Too much of something is a bad thing, but the wrong intentions can also make something a bad thing — a fact that certainly applies to gambling.

How Can I Address Problem Gambling?

The first step in addressing problem gambling is acknowledging the issue. Once you’ve done this, understanding why you gamble can provide insight into strategies that can help manage the behavior. Implementing alternative activities, seeking professional help, or joining a support group are all viable options that make a big difference. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, help is available. 800-GAMBLER is here to provide support, information, and resources for problem gamblers and family members looking to get help for their loved ones. Understanding why we gamble can be a significant step in preventing problem gambling, but sometimes, we need a little extra assistance to get over the hump. Be sure to call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER and utilize other resources like our webinars, podcasts, and other support for friends and family to put problem gambling in your rearview mirror.


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