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What Makes Gambling So Addictive?

Games of chance are games in which it is mainly chance that decides the result and in which you must bet money in order to be able to play.

Games of chance include lotto, lotteries, betting (sports betting, horse betting), casino games such as slot machines, roulette, poker and blackjack. The influence of chance can be very different in these games. In Roulette or Lotto, for example, the result depends exclusively on chance, while in Poker and Blackjack the decisions of the players also influence the result.

Almost all games are now offered online on the Internet. Some games of chance are less socially accepted than others (e.g. playing at ATMs); other forms of gambling enjoy a high level of acceptance in society, such as the lottery.

The probability of being struck by lightning or by a plane while walking is higher than having a six in the lottery.

Gambling addiction in Switzerland

There is a lot of gambling on offer in Switzerland. You can play in eight A-Casinos and thirteen B-Casinos. In 2011, the gross gaming revenue of Swiss casinos reached around CHF 825 million. The 3945 slot machines currently in operation contributed 679 million Swiss francs, the table games 146 million Swiss francs. At the same time, gross gaming revenues of CHF 913 million were generated with lottery and betting products.

The economic benefits of gambling are offset by social costs arising from problematic or pathological gambling behaviour. They are estimated at at at least CHF 545 million per year (Jeanrenaud et al. 2012). These include, for example, costs resulting from loss of work performance, treatment and legal proceedings in connection with procurement offences and divorce. In addition, those affected must accept negative effects in the form of debt, gambling assets and impairment of their quality of life.

One study concluded that in Switzerland in 2005 about 0.8% of the adult population showed risky gambling behaviour (“problematic gamblers”) and another 0.5% were addicted (“pathological gamblers”) (Bondolfi et al. 2008).

What are games of chance?

Being actively involved in the game results in higher stakes. This phenomenon can be observed in all human beings, but is particularly noticeable in high-risk games such as slot machines and poker.

Some games manage to make the player believe that the outcome of the game depends to a large extent on his abilities. The more the game can convey this feeling, the more the player will be captivated. This supposed control over the game, however, is only an illusion that is reinforced by being actively involved in the game. Games that make use of these two mechanisms involve a particularly high risk.

Also a quick game sequence animates to continue playing and if the win is paid out after a short time, the probability of using it again increases.

Almost wins are a thrill. Being very close to it, animated to play again, because luck seems close enough to touch. Four out of five characters or numbers that are close to the winning number nourish the belief that you have only just not won.

High winnings like jackpots nourish the dream of a life of wealth. Who has never dreamed of winning the lottery?

Sound and light effects are also there to create a sense of pleasure and activity. They help make winnings more likely than losses. Many casino visitors like the glamorous atmosphere and therefore go to the casino.

There are many myths and false assumptions about gambling.

Did you know?

People who take part in gambling are more courageous and adventurous than people who never gamble.

No: Gambling tickles the nerves and you are under the spell of the action. This state of excitement makes gambling so attractive.

With every game of chance, there are game strategies that can help you win.

This assumption is wrong. Certain games of chance such as lotto or roulette depend solely on chance. But also with other games, which can be influenced, there is unfortunately no “winning strategy”.

If a person has a winning streak, they should increase the bet.

No: The belief that fate plays a big role tempts many gamblers to take higher risks. But chance has no memory.

To win, a person must be familiar with the game.

This is a common assumption in sports betting and poker. But even with these games, there is no guarantee of winning. The vast majority of experienced players lose more than they win.

If a person has not won for a long time, the probability that a larger win is waiting for them increases.

No, the probability of winning or losing is always the same.

Sometimes a person simply knows that they will be lucky.

Many gamblers have premonitions and see signs of a winning streak. This is all too human, but unfortunately it doesn’t win.

Who does not dare, does not win.

One could also say that whoever wins is unlucky. If you win a lot at the beginning, you’ll be more likely to play further than if you lose several times in a row.

Although all these statements are not true or only partially so, many gamblers believe them. But chance has no memory and in the end the player always loses.

In total, more money is used than winnings are paid out. Depending on the form of play 20% to 40% go into the cash of the offerers. People who are addicted to gambling represent only about 2% of the entire population, but they finance the majority of the gambling business through their usually high stakes.

Sports betting

According to the State Treaty on Gaming, sports betting may also be organised by private operators for a limited period of time for the purpose of testing (experimental phase). The providers must apply for a corresponding licence and have proven their reliability and efficiency in the licence procedure.

In addition, all bodies in which sports betting is brokered must have their own official licence. It can be granted if the reliability of the betting agent can be proven, the location is suitable and youth and player protection is guaranteed. These licences must be applied for by the licence holder on behalf of the intermediaries who are integrated into his sales organisation.

The licensing procedure was concluded in 2014 with the selection decision by the Hessian Ministry of the Interior and Sport as the authority with uniform responsibility for all Länder. Nevertheless, the licences have not yet been awarded due to ongoing administrative court disputes.

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