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What motivates people to gamble

What Motivates People to Gamble?

Motives such as entertainment 79%, excitement 59%, and money 62%, are the most prevalent in the entire population that they observed regardless of risk, or addiction related problems


While discussing cognitive processes that occur during gambling, it seemed like a logical start to begin from the basic question of what motivates people to gamble in the first place. Answering this question will give you an important insight into why is it that certain people develop gambling addiction, while others simply continue gambling as a way of entertaining oneself with no addiction related problems.


''Obviously, entertainment alone will not be a reason why a person becomes addicted''


Different scientists and social researchers offer various categories of possible motives that inspire people to gamble. In most cases, their categories overlap and therefore we are going to present you with five main categories of gambling motives as presented by Lee et al. in 2007. They include: socialization, entertainment, escape, excitement, and financial motivation. Obviously, entertainment alone will not be a reason why a person becomes addicted, which is why it's important to observe various ways different motives and reasons for gambling combine. Also, the psychological needs that they fulfill which could potentially lead to a disruption of psychosocial functioning of an individual and, therefore, many harmful consequences.


While conducting a study on the interconnection between specific gambling motivation and addiction problems related to gambling, researchers Gupta and Derevensky, in 1998, found that the motives such as entertainment 79%, excitement 59%, and money 62%, are the most prevalent in the entire population that they observed regardless of risk, or addiction related problems. However, they also found that the group which exhibits addiction problems related to gambling has a significantly higher score on motives such as escaping one's problems, dealing with depression and loneliness, relaxation and socialization.

The four E's

Significant contribution to gaining insight into gambling motives came from a model called “The Four E’s of Problem Gambling,“as designed by Rockloff and Dyerova in 2006. The main goal of this model is to assess the risk of developing gambling related problems from a psychological perspective. The instrument developed on the basis of this model recognizes four gambling motives related to problematic gambling, they include: Escape, which is avoidance of social interaction, Esteem, meaning avoidance of negative self-assessment, Excess, referring to impulsiveness and acting on a whim with not much thought put into it, and Excitement also known as reduction of boredom. The precision and accuracy of this instrument has been tested multiple times on different populations which validated it's assessment ability in relation to not only gambling addiction, but also alcohol and other substance addictions. As expected, population groups which have a gambling problem obtained higher results on all four gambling motives.


Models and instruments such as “The Four E’s…“ help us understand specific reasons behind a person's involvement in gambling and contribute to the success of treatment if necessary.