What follows below is a brief introduction to the general psychological aspects of gambling. The information is important because different interpretations exist as to what explains the behavior and thus, how and why it’s pursued. Understanding some of these ideas might help you, the player, develop an approach that allows you to most effectively enjoy your gambling experience and steer clear of some of the pitfalls.
The term refers to any behavior involving risking money or property on the outcome of a game, contest, or any other event where the outcome depends upon chance or upon one’s ability to do something – OR – also, a behavior in which decisions occur based upon incomplete knowledge. So long as the participant accepts the fact that ‘chance’ and ‘incomplete knowledge’ represent a large portion of the activity and that losses are likely to occur, and possesses the ability to stop once losses have occurred, the activity can be enjoyable.
Two competing interpretations of gambling and human behavior exist: 1) that it represents a form of deviant behavior and 2) that it represents a form of normal behavior. Each individual’s, as well as government’s, interpretation or choice dictates not only whether or not they choose to condone or participate in gambling activities at all, but also how they gamble when they are engaged in the activity.
Those people who consider gambling a form of ‘deviant behavior’ generally connect it as well with the criminal rings and bad elements traditionally associated with it. They fail to recognize the speculative aspects of the activity. Gambling is, in many ways, similar to stock market speculation and indeed, people make decisions, or ‘gamble’, based on incomplete information in everyday life.
For those who consider gambling a ‘normal’ behavior, the activity is regarded as more of a leisure activity meant to be enjoyed. Generally, the thought of risking money on games of chance is tempting to many and when losses occur, people continue gambling not because of any deviant addiction to the thrill but because they wish to recuperate losses.
Depending on which side of the fence you fall ultimately determines how you approach the activity and the level of enjoyment you take from it. Governments form their own interpretations as well and legislation is formed either condoning/supporting gambling industries or outlawing them outright. Normally however, there’s a balance to be found somewhere in the middle for both individuals and governments where gambling represents neither a serious deviation in human behavior nor a complete leisure activity devoid of consequences.