Gambling and psychology have, since time immemorial, had an adversarial relationship. Most studies done in the field of psychology regarding gambling are focused on the negative impacts of gambling at the individual and societal levels.
This is not unwarranted, as gambling addiction and other irresponsible forms of gambling have ruined careers, relationships, families, and individuals. But, responsible gambling – which is practiced by the majority of players – has many positive psychological impacts. All the impacts that will be discussed in this article are backed by scientific studies.
So, what benefits can one get from popping into a new casino from time to time?
Most people, especially those who don’t engage in gambling activities, see money as the main motivation for casino players. The lure of striking it rich does factor in, but for most people, occasional gambling is a fun activity to enjoy. It is a hobby.
Psychology has long-established the positive health benefits of having a hobby. In 2010, a study released by researchers from the University of Southern Illinois showed that nursing home residents who engaged in occasional gambling were much happier than those who didn’t. This is because gambling gave them an opportunity to participate in a fun activity that they enjoyed.
Gambling is a social activity, especially when it comes to land-based casinos. Loneliness is one of the single biggest contributors to mental health conditions like depression and overall unhappiness.
When people gamble, they don’t just go to the casino and focus on their games. They get the opportunity to meet new people, especially at table games like poker and blackjack. Even online casinos have included this social aspect by including chat rooms, and in more recent years, streaming in real-time with live dealers.
Factoring in online spaces like message boards and social media groups for players to interact, gambling can give a player a massive social boost.
Some casino games like slot machines and roulette are purely luck-based – there is very little skill (if any) that determines whether one wins or loses.
But other games like poker and blackjack engage the players intellectually. They require skill and strategy, and the ability to learn from one’s past gaming experience, whether positive or negative.
Even luck-based games like roulette help players sharpen their observational skills as well as their hand-eye coordination. Keeping one’s brain intellectually engaged on a regular basis has been shown, by multiple studies, to be effective at staving off neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Before one gets carried away by all these potential psychological benefits, it is important to note one keyword: moderation.
There is a reason why gambling is often viewed in a negative light by psychological publications and the media in general. When gambling becomes a problem, or an addiction, then its harms far outweigh any benefits.
There are many resources out there to help players to play responsibly at land-based and online casinos. Even the most casual of players should check these guides from time to time.