Whether in arcades, slot machines or betting, toto and lottery areas, gambling is becoming increasingly popular. A study by the Federal Centre for Health Education on gambling behavior and gambling addiction in Germany found that more than three quarters of 16- to 70-year-olds in have already taken part in a gambling game. But why is playing so popular?

 

SENSATION SEEKING

It is considered certain that some people have a greater propensity to gamble than others. From a psychological point of view, this can be explained by the personality traits, which can vary from person to person. For example, those who are particularly open to experience can absorb and process a lot of stimuli. In this case, the tendency towards so-called Sensation Seeking is particularly pronounced: in these people there is an exceptionally strong urge for always new, stimulating events. Sensation Seekers need a high arousal pattern to feel comfortable – this is achieved by looking for variety, new experiences and adventures. People with a strong penchant for sensation seeking are more likely to gamble. The usually low chances of winning in potentially high stakes carry a high risk. But that’s what irritates people. In the above-mentioned study, as many as 30 percent of respondents cited excitement as a motive for gambling – putting the risk at number two of the reasons for gambling.

 

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TO PASS TIME AND FOR RELAXATION

But other reasons did not perform badly in the survey: relaxation, distraction and being undisturbed were also frequently mentioned. For many, playing is a way to recover from everyday life. Thus, the gamble contributes to relaxation after a strenuous day. On quiet days, gambling can also be seen as a nice pastime: a survey commissioned by the Pharmacy Survey found that 19.3 percent of respondents see gambling as a way to pass the time.

 

DIFFERENT FORMS OF GAMBLING

On the one hand, there are costly and public gambling games such as casinos and horse betting. Because of the higher costs, more rich people can afford these games. For example, at the CHIO, the world festival of equestrian sports in Aachen, familiar faces from the royal houses are often seen.

On the other hand, there are cheaper games like Lotto, where people remain anonymous. These are more often played by people from lower social classes, who are mainly concerned with profit.

 

CASINOS AS A FORM OF LEISURE

Franz Schütte made the thesis in 1985 that it is precisely the expensive and public gambling that is popular with socially higher classes: casinos, for example, are primarily a leisure activity for the rich and beautiful. This thesis is supported by the fact that many celebrities are committed to gambling, although the money prize might actually be irrelevant to them. The reason for this is that the rich and beautiful assume that they must live according to their social standard and present their generosity and wealth. Thus, gambling becomes in a way a tool of demarcation of the better-off from the lower strata, who cannot afford a high stakes.

 

GAINING MONEY

At 69.7 percent, winning money was the most frequently cited motive for gambling in the BZgA study. Thus, a cash prize is perceived as a “reward”. Since this reward is perceived as pleasant, the action of the game will be repeated in the hope of another win.

 

DESIRE FOR SOCIAL MOBILITY

In addition, gambling and, above all, profit is attributed to an egalitarian function. People with a desire for social mobility in particular are motivated mainly by the prospect of winning money for gambling: because people with low financial resources get the hopeful illusion of becoming rich and thereby rising socially by participating in gambling. People like to invest in the cheap lottery tickets, which could make a big profit with only a small part of the household budget.