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Common Misconceptions About Gambling That Can Lead to Problem Gambling


Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intent to win something else of value. This typically includes an element of risk and a prize, and it can involve skill. However, there are many misconceptions about gambling that can lead to serious problems.

A common misperception is that gambling is about chance. While some people do have good fortune, the vast majority of gamblers lose more than they win. Often, this happens because people are superstitious or believe that they can influence the odds by taking certain actions, such as throwing dice in a particular way, sitting in a specific spot, or wearing a lucky item of clothing. While these things may have some small effect, they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Another reason why people gamble is that it gives them a sense of accomplishment and reward. When you win, the brain releases a hormone called dopamine, which makes you feel good. This feeling can be a strong motivation to keep playing, even when you’re losing. Unfortunately, problem gambling can change the way your brain rewards you for these behaviors and cause you to think that you need to keep playing in order to win.

Many people also overestimate the probability that they will win because their mind can produce immediate examples of when they did. For example, they might recall a story in the news of someone winning the lottery or a time when they had a string of wins at a casino. This thinking can make it seem like your chances of winning increase with each loss, but this is a myth.

The truth is that your chances of winning never change, and they are always the same. This is why it’s important to be prepared for losses and only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. It’s also a good idea to set a dollar limit for yourself and stick to it. And if you do win, it’s best to keep that money separate from your budget for other expenses.

If you’re worried that your gambling is getting out of hand, it’s important to seek help and support. CU Boulder students can access a variety of resources through AcademicLiveCare, our virtual counseling and psychiatry service that allows you to connect with a counselor or psychiatrist from anywhere. To get started, schedule a screening or drop by during a Let’s Talk session. We can’t wait to hear from you!