Essay on Gambling Grows: $137.5B Contribution to US Economy, $495B Worldwide

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1796 Words
Date:  2023-04-08


Gambling is a vastly growing activity for many people. According to Statista, gambling makes an annual contribution of approximately $137.5 billion to the United States economy (Statista Research Department, 2018). As of 2019, the worldwide gross gambling yields was forecasted to reach $495 billion (Statista Research Department, 2018). According to Martin et al. (2010), legalized gambling has become one of the fastest-growing industries in North America over the past three decades. In the past, betting on horse racing was a leading gambling form in most of the English-speaking nations as well as France. Towards the 21st century, various types of gambling are on the rise and have become more evolved and spread throughout societies. Significant trends in gambling have been experienced through online and mobile gambling as a result of technological advances that have fascinated a new generation of players in gambling.

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Negative Consequences of Gambling

Today, according to Whiting and Dixon (2015), gambling has turned out common in the United States, with most of the gamblers taking advantage of the growing interaction between gambling and social networks. This interaction has resulted in mobile gambling as individuals have immediate access to betting websites, applications, and can connect to social networks. With a view of the future of gambling, the practices seem to be inclining towards gambling on the blockchain. For example, the emergence of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology is becoming widely popular among betting platforms and has been considered as an alternative to the fiat-based payment system. Even though gambling satisfies instant gratification, there is a significant cause for alarm as it could result in various social and economic problems. In a study by Williams (2011), one of the primary demerits of gambling includes an increase in problem gambling and other related factors such as divorce, suicide, bankruptcy, treatment numbers, among other indices. Further, 1.4% of gamblers are likely to develop disordered or pathological gambling behavior (Whiting & Dixon, 2015). The delineation between moderate to severe gambling is considered arbitrary. However, moderate to severe gamblers are likely to be impacted by divorce, suicide, and bankruptcy cross socioeconomic boundaries (Williams, 2011).

Psychological Elements in Gambling

Lottery scratch-offs, also described as an instant lottery, is amongst the most popular gambling games in the United States (Sultan, 1999). Marking the beginning of "modern" lottery scratch-offs in 1964, lottery gambling was illegal in the U.S. until 1964, which has since then evolved with high popularity and recognition (Clotfelter et al., 1999). In lottery scratch-offs form of gambling, gamblers hold the belief that they could increase their opportunities of winning by adjusting and regulating bets as per the previous winnings or in response to various portents that could relate to the gamble at hand (Clotfelter & Cook, 1991). Often, the pattern of lottery gambling and lottery advertising delivers illustrations about the psychological predispositions in making a risky decision (Clotfelter & Cook, 1991). According to Derevensky (2012), all the available forms of gambling, along with those considered to be more skill-based, such as sports betting and poker, entail a given element of luck. However, because card games like poker provide an opportunity for choices, the gambler or player could develop a delusion of controlling the results. According to Griffiths (1990), most of the individuals that believe or remain deluded that they have opportunities of winning after consistently losing a lot of money.

Correspondingly, the availability, motivation, and the returns motivate the decision to choose one gambling method over the other. The choice is often out of curiosity created by ambling commercials on specific bets. In terms of returns, there are higher chances that a gambler will choose a bet that is likely to record a win. For instance, in the event an individual acquires a win in their first bet, it is probable that they will attempt to gamble even after a loss. Griffiths and Delfabbro (2001) point out that there is a range of different variables at play in most gambling scenarios besides profits. A loss disguised as a win (LDW) is one of the variables that has been suggested to perpetuate the engagement of continuous gambling (Dixon et al., 2015).

Near Misses and Losses Disguised as Wins: Cognitive Biases in Gambling

Losses disguised as wins occur in the event a gambler misjudges losing outcomes as a win. For instance, when a player bets $50 at the beginning of the game and by the end of the game wins $10 back, gamblers may perceive this as a win. Even though the player ended the game with $10, it means that the gambler wins less than the money they bet, leading to an overall loss. In the modern slot machines, LDW is celebrated similarly to that of a true win, a practice that appears to deliver enormous influence on the gambler's need to continue playing as their overall loss is masked (Dixon et al., 2010). Similarly, LDWs are seen in lottery scratch-offs, whereby an individual may purchase a scratch card at $50 and later get awarded based on the lottery scratch-off requirements. Although this is seen as a win, the individual could have been awarded something worth $30, indicating an overall loss. Another variable likely to perpetuate continuous gambling is a "near miss" (Billieux et al., 2012). "Near miss" results involve unsuccessful results near to the ultimate win or jackpot. An example of a near-miss would include a result where two jackpot figures could appear within the pay line; however, the third identical figure stops just below or above the pay line. In such cases, the player feels like they were close to winning. The manipulation of near misses is often based on the argument that gambling derives from structural elements of the games, with some of the elementary parameters including jackpot size and the speed of play (Griffiths & Delfabbro, 2001). Even though various subjective ratings indicated that near misses are experienced as unattractive, they recruited reward-related brain function responding to monetary wins. According to Griffiths and Delfabbro (2001), the pro-motivational influences of a near-miss in gambling deliver the indication of differential processing of near-miss results in both neutral and subjective cases.

In both cases, concerning near misses and LDWs, they promote gambling by contributing to "gambler's fallacy." The concept of gambler's fallacy involves a belief by the gambler that if an inevitable outcome frequently appears than others or the past, then it is less likely to occur in the future (Clotfelter & Cook, 1993). Such scenarios are evident in lottery scratch-offs, slot machines, and card gambling as well in that a gambler may choose to continue playing based on the fallacy surrounding streak wins or losses. Dixon et al. (2014) argue that a player is likely to react based on self-rule they developed during success and the probability if they could do the same thing again and get a record a win. However, there have been significant arguments against this perception, distinguishing that self-rule might not have control over the outcome of the game (Cowley et al., 2015). For example, Skinner argues that the most significant explanation on the effectiveness of near misses is based on the perception that almost getting the jackpot right increases the possibilities that the gambler will play (Skinner 1953). Hence, this fallacy results in the false sense of control that steadily increases the chances that the gambler will play again. Gambler fallacy could lead to the predisposition by the player on their experiences if they believe that their gambling skills are exceptional facilitation of the illusion of control (IOC).

Illusions of Control in Gambling Behavior

According to Cowley et al. (2015), illusions of control could be an explanation as to why gamblers continue playing regardless of the constant losing streak. For instance, in the case where a player believes that they hold various advantages over a gamble such as a lottery scratch-off, they are likely to gamble regardless of a losing outcome repeatedly. In such cases, an element of a randomly determined gamble is manipulated to impose IOC. Since losses are more likely than wins in commercial gambling, the history of a specific game influences the player's IOC beliefs (Thompson et al., 2004). The sense of control might motivate the illusions of control as it includes the desire to perform excellently. Also, the perception of self-worth by players that hold a belief on IOC considers their gambling performance in that losses could motivate them to develop their evaluations selectively (Thompson et al., 2004; Cowley et al., 2015). Deeper into the involvement of IOC in gambling, Cowley et al. (2015) finalize that, players holding high illusions of control are likely to use their most enormous wins during their losing evaluations. While, gamblers with low illusions of control tend to use the final result of the bet as determinants when evaluating their gaming practice (Cowley et al., 2015). Under the practice of this behavior, numerous explanations have been provided concerning the repeated behavior such as susceptibility to cognitive bias such as availability, habituation, temporal discounting, intangible elements of the experience, as well as impaired brain functionality.


In the book, Science and Human Behavior, Skinner (1953) implied that familiarity of something could be considered a disadvantage as it means that an individual is likely to conclude something without any scientific or numerical evidence. Even though an individual is used to a particular gambling platform or a selective lottery scratch-off game, it does not necessarily mean there is any uniformity with the actual outcome, whether a loss or a win (Skinner, 1953). Mainly, behaviors such as the self-rules are likely to influence the decision of behavior of a gambler, whereby a stimulus showing no historical function could need control over the behavior via the direct contact consequences (Whiting & Dixon, 2015; Skinner 1953). Changes in behavior are defined by the consequences, either negative or positive, encountered and can be associated with other contingencies to develop frames that motivate a specific behavior to a particular antecedent (Skinner, 1953).

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Essay on Gambling Grows: $137.5B Contribution to US Economy, $495B Worldwide. (2023, Apr 08). Retrieved from

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