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The Chemistry of Gambling

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posted on Aug, 18 2007 @ 06:11 PM
I'm not a gambler. At least, I don't gamble with my money. I guess I'm a gambler when it comes to other things, as perhaps we all are to some degree, but when it comes to my hard earned cash, I want tangible returns.

There was a time when I really liked to play the video game Pole Position. In those days, it was a very realistic driving game and I liked to drive and I was good at the game. It involved skill and it made me feel good to win the race, which I learned to do consistently. I put a lot of quarters in that machine over time, but I always felt that I was getting something real in return. I developed a skill and I had fun. That was good enough for me.

The article here deals with slot machines and the chemistry and biology of gambling.

Why do people sit for hours dropping coins into a machine when there is no skill involved and the costs can be so high?

Well, here's your answer. What seems odd to me, though, is how in this whole article, the author can fail to mention both classical and operant conditioning.

The growth of the gambling industry has been accompanied by a large amount of new scientific research explaining the effects of gambling on the brain. The neural circuits manipulated by gambling originally evolved to help animals assess rewards, such as food, that are crucial for survival. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved with the processing of these rewards. Whenever we experience something pleasurable, such as winning a hand of blackjack or eating a piece of chocolate cake, our dopamine neurons get excited. These neurons help the brain learn about the pleasure, and attempt to predict when it will happen again.

There's an old saying that the lottery is a tax on the mathematically challenged and this data has led some to ask if gambling is the sort of business the government should be in.

I think not.

I think that this industry, which purports to provide jobs and boost state revenues is slowly eating away at our moral fiber and the social cost of gambling is much higher than any amount of revenue that might be generated.

What is your view?

[edit on 2007/8/18 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Aug, 19 2007 @ 10:49 AM
There is a certain rush you get when you pull a good hand in a poker match or slam your final bet on to the winning number of a spin of the devils wheel. (Roulette) I've seen it more times than I care to remember. In fact to be honest i don't really want to think about it!

But, Grady just for you: I will continue in to the depths of my troubled mind.

I spent a horrid few years working as a Croupier a posh name for a crap way to make a living, even if you can make a good, as in profitable living that way.

Gambling addiction is no different to crack or H, Alcohol or cancer sticks. It's something that has to be fed. If I worked 5 early shifts I would see the same people day in and day out, they would come in and do their daily allowence. some days they would do it quick some days it might last a little longer but it would go and then so would they. They would not complain about loosing their money and they wouldn't feel bad about it. That's an addicted gambler!

A Saturday night superstar, a jack the lad gangster wannabe, a the names Bond, James Bond! These idiots would come in and do they're monthly in a few hours - then think - Oh My Pants! What have I done! then they get shirty, throw an ashtray and a whole load of expletives, get barred and learn there lesson! Hopefully!

There's an old saying that the lottery is a tax on the mathematically challenged and this data has led some to ask if gambling is the sort of business the government should be in.

I don't think maths comes in to it really. It's straight forward common sence. Casinos rarely go out of business and all the people that own them are Billionaires.

Why's that then?

As for the government, better to tax it and get it than ban it and not get it. It will continue, just not in big flashy hotels and regulated places with side shows and burnt out singers and stuff.

I think that this industry, which purports to provide jobs and boost state revenues is slowly eating away at our moral fiber and the social cost of gambling is much higher than any amount of revenue that might be generated.

I'm not so sure an industry can be held accountable for moral fibre. That I would think comes down to the idividual. The revenue that is generated must be massive. A meidium sized club I worked in, in London had to make 38'000GBP about 75'000USDish just to break even. It had never had a loosing day! Sure some punters had won big, but the casino always wins.

There is always a price to pay, but gambling in its various forms is as old as time itself. A little NWO to take it away!

Everything in moderation, and if your going to Las Vagas: 10 minutes of Celine Dion is more than enough!


posted on Aug, 23 2007 @ 08:02 PM
The "chemistry of gambling" is certainly an apt title for this thread and for the actual act of gambling. I was just reading about some current research into Parkinson's disease (my brother has Parkinson's so I have a natural interest) and what I discovered was quite astounding.

During some research into dopamine agonist therapy, a drug regimen designed to alleviate the motor-problems that defines Parkinson's disease, a number of patients reported developing chronic gambling problems!

Parkinson's is a disorder that destroys a portion of the brain called the substantia nigra.
The destruction of this portion of the brain is characterized by a gradually increased difficulty in controlling motion and motor control of the body. Typically, we think of Parkinson's as a disease that causes shakiness but this is merely a symptom of a whole host of motor control issues which include rigidity, loss of motion and motor control which ultimately lead to death as involuntary motor systems are also lost. Swallowing and even breathing can be become difficult or even impossible. Of course I am being very simplistic in my description of Parkinson's'. A cursory Google search into Parkinson's will tell you all you need to know.

What is interesting, however is that the drugs that are currently used to help restore or improve the brains chemical signaling system -- which appears to be at the root of this disease -- work on dopamine.

Dopamine is a vital chemical, present in the brain, which is, somehow, involved in the regulation of movement. Affecting balance, walking, motor skills, dopamine is also involved in the processes that give pleasure. It would seem that dopamine is released when a coc aine or narcotic addict indulges himself. It is the ultimate reward. But the latest findings seem to show that dopamine is also, somehow, related to impulse control and, ultimately, an individual's behavioral reward system. Dopamine has now been linked to the "behavioral reward" of gambling to the point that Parkinson's Drugs have been linked to actually causing "problem gambling".

Studies have shown that Parkinson's patients on therapeutic drugs designed to alleviate the symptoms of the disease have actually caused a clinically significant and demonstrable level of "problem gambling" as well as other behaviors that can be linked to impulse control; i.e. sexual promiscuity or hyper-sexuality, alcohol abuse, over-spending and over-eating.

[edit on 8/23/2007 by benevolent tyrant]

posted on Aug, 23 2007 @ 09:04 PM
I had a problem working at the local gas station -- watching people spend their paychecks on scratch-offs. They knew (better than I) that the numbers were entirely against them. But, as I often heard, "it's the chance... the possibility..."

Video games are right up there with the slot machines. Flashing lights, crazy sounds, and it demands your constant and contentious attention. (and is it just me, or do the missions keep getting longer?? First, the frog had to get across the road, and Pac Man had to eat all the little bubbles... then Mario and Bowser became Zelda and (I can't even remember the names...) Now I'm trekking across forests in search of a friggin' nut, or spelunking to kill trolls, only to stop and play some silly card game (gotta get 'em all!!)...

In the end, I think it's a combination: We want to be distracted, we want to relax. And we want a chance at more money (in the case of gambling). These outlets distract us, and we get addicted to them. The lights flash, the sirens sound, we feel like we accomplished something...

Watch rich people on tv. Work a minimum wage job. Sorry, no amount of saving and scrimping and frugality will ever equate me with any rich person. I have a better chance gambling for it... at least then I have a chance to join the ranks of the elite... it's minuscule, and I'd have a better chance of getting hit by lightning twice while standing in the same place, then get bitten by a shark before I ever win the big one.... but it's a chance....

I'll 2nd mojo -- people gnaw away at their own moral fibers. Sure, the gambling and video games don't help (neither does television, btw), but it was the people who demanded these products be made in mass, and it's the people who keep going back to these vices.

And this is why I will never allow World of Warcraft in the house. We'd never log out... and I know this, and so I refuse to indulge myself. (Anyone seen the South Park episode "Make love, not Warcraft"? ...yeah, I'd end up being Cartman.... :shk: )

posted on Aug, 23 2007 @ 09:44 PM

The new drug to battle the horrible "disease" (cough cough), Restless leg syndrome..lists increased urge to gamble as a side effect.


posted on Aug, 23 2007 @ 09:55 PM
reply to post by spacedoubt

Oh, but surely there's a pill for that, too!!!

We've got pills for everything!!

...except morality, civility, manners, respect... But as soon as we figure out how to en-capsulate
those, we'll patent, market and sell them!

(Honestly, I hope we never do. It's the only path left for our inner-rebels...)

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