Scientists have uncovered new information that may uncover why some people have problems controlling their gambling — and reveals all the ways casinos may be encouraging bad behavior

Leanbackplayer has released a summary of new findings on the psychology of gambling and how it affects the brain:

The research looked at 41 studies from 17 different journals over the past 5 years and compiled findings from each.

The research was performed by Will Titterington and Quincy Miller, veteran gaming industry professionals.

The Research Findings

Finding #1
Online casinos have built-in advantages that their brick-and-mortar counterparts struggle to match. Online casinos are more convenient, require less overhead to operate, and allow players to gamble in complete anonymity — important advantages that regular casinos will never be able to replicate.

“In online live casino gaming, the anonymity of the internet allows players to privately engage in gambling without the fear of stigma,” said Dr. Mark Griffiths, a Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University.

Finding #2
The biggest advantage brick-and-mortar casinos have is consumer trust. Despite advances in cybersecurity, many gamblers simply don’t trust online casinos not to rig the games against them. As long as brick-and-mortar casinos have the edge in trust, they’ll likely enjoy a large slice of the gaming market.

Finding #3
Online casinos may be more dangerous for problem gamblers. The ability to gamble at any time, day or night, without any of the traditional societal safeguards that keep problem gamblers in check can be a recipe for disaster.

“Fundamentally, increased accessibility of gambling activities enables the individual to rationalize involvement in the risk-behavior by removing previously restrictive barriers such as time constraints emanating from occupational and social commitments,” Griffiths said.

Finding #4
Gambling utilizes the power of uncertainty to literally reprogram the brain. Gambling changes how the brain releases dopamine, the so-called “feel-good neurotransmitter.” Over time, the brain adjusts to higher and higher doses, reducing its effectiveness, so that gamblers have to play longer and bet more to get the same effect.

According to one study, the release of dopamine reinforces maladaptive gambling, creating a self-perpetuating destructive behavior.

Finding #5
Casinos — both online and brick-and-mortar — are using new technology to exploit players’ brains. Advances in gaming technology — most notably “losses disguised as wins” — are changing how long players gamble and how much they wager, often with catastrophic results.

Finding #6
The root of gambling addiction may lie in the supplementary eye field (SEF), a little-understood region of the brain designed to control the movement of the eyes. People with dopamine deficiencies also experience abnormalities in the SEF, making them more susceptible to addiction.

Researchers investigating monkeys found that increased neuron activity in this region corresponded to increased risk-taking behavior, and a lack of dopamine increased neuron activity, creating a vicious loop.

Finding #7
Problem gamblers fit a troubling profile. Addiction is more likely to affect men, minorities, and those with preexisting health conditions, and the rise of mobile gaming is making it easier for these people to fall into self-destructive patterns.

Prior to internet gambling, many of these vulnerable individuals weren’t affected so long as they didn’t live near a casino; however, the rise of mobile gaming has led to a corresponding rise in problem gambling among these demographics.

Finding #8
The solution to problem gambling may lie in setting limits. If casinos would enforce — and gamblers would adhere to — limits on how much can be wagered or how long sessions can last, problem gambling could be severely curbed.

 

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