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Gamblers and Psychology

A few years ago some nitwit from Harvard University (USA), wrote an article in which he claimed a whole lot of nonsense – and as a result created a volume of literary vomit that can only be described as: Ad caveat ad Nauseam.

Well, first of all he got his facts wrong. Baccarat is not a game of skill. It is one of those games in the casino that are entirely games of pure luck and/or chance.

Video Poker can be a game of skill, but he didn't say that. He used live poker players as his examples of gamblers, but poker players play a game where the house does not participate, because poker is – so far – the only casino game which is NOT banked by the casino.

And then he cited problem gambling statistics from the NGISC (National Gambling Impact Study Commission) as being between 1.5% and 15%, but around 2.5% - but he couldn’t seem to settle on which. The report quoted by online casino aggregator Offers.bet itself actually says that these are closer to around 0.85% problem gamblers.

But then, which of the three versions of the NGISC reports was he referring to?

The original?

The revised?

The religious right opposition?

He then equated pathological gambling with a form of dopamine addiction found in cocaine addicts seeking a high. He cited clinical studies which seemed to show an increased blood flow to the brain regions which produce dopamine, resulting in an addicting "feeling of well being" (my quote), which is the repetitious result of certain behavioral patterns in humans - humans seek out those activities which produce, and reproduce, that feeling, in this case that increase of dopamine in those regions of the brain.

This, the author cited, is what causes casino players to be attracted to gambling, and is the reason behind addiction.

Well, these kind of psychologists can go find a lake and jump in!

Pavlov's dog proved that more than 130+ years ago.

The point in question actually happens to be: What is wrong with that?

The simple fact is that a certain portion of all mammals will become prone to certain kinds of behavior, no matter what the rest of their kind do. And the report says that among 167+ million American adults, only less than 1% have what is described as a "gambling addiction." But this does not mean that it is so, and even if it is close, it is statistically and sociologically irrelevant.

The assertion that such persons cause a $5+ billion dollar economic loss to the community, is not only to stretch this argument beyond all reason, but to grossly overestimate the "costs" of such a small percentage of persons.

According to that article's own statement, merely some 5 million American adults suffer from what could be described as a "clinical addition" to gambling. Do these 5 million really cost society $5+ billion?

Wake up and smell the figures!

Even if we accept that position, the author's own admission is that the gambling industry generates some $866 BILLION in economic revenue. And much more so today. Compared to that, even that excessive $5 billion "cost" is barely an economic "glitch." Neither that, nor any diehard gamblers, would ever be considered by any economist as having such significance.

The plain, simple, truthful fact is that some people will always be prone to some kind of a behavioral anomaly, which psychologists will always find as "wrong."

However, "wrong" is a transitory term. What is "wrong" for you, may be perfectly "right" for someone else – or for a society at different times throughout history.

Some people will always be fat, some always thin, some always tall, some always short, some with brown hair, some with blond hair, some with blue eyes, some with green eyes, and so on (until we begin to genetically engineer ourselves to a point of total conformity).

Some people will overeat; some will drink too much; some people will gamble too much and too often.

And if that author thought that this small percentage of people are somehow "abusers," then he is still a fool, and so are all those persons involved in all those studies. They are all merely seeking excuses for additional tax-payer funding for purposeless research.

God save us from the plethora of psychologists seeking to do the right thing!

It is the rest of us who have to pick up the pieces.

(My paraphrase from the screenplay by Paddy Chyawski, "The Americanization of Emily, 1964).

And that’s the way it really is.

By: Victor H Royer