Why Do People Gamble? 5 Reasons and Risks

Gambling is a common pastime that is enjoyed throughout most parts of the world.

In fact, recent data shows that about 26% of the global population gambles.

However, gambling can at times be a divisive issue.

Some people love it and make it a regular part of their lives. Others, whether due to personal beliefs or financial reservations, avoid it completely.

Some countries even ban the practice all together.

So, why do people gamble? What motivates them to go to the casino or buy lottery tickets?

In this article, we’ll explore five of the main reasons why people gamble.

Reasons Why People GambleThey Want to Win Big

This might be one of the simplest reasons, but it’s true! Quite simply, people gamble because they want to win money-hopefully a lot of it.

There are many different ways to gamble. Some of them require more skill, like casino games like poker, while others rely on chance, like the lottery.

No matter the game, players usually only have to put forward a small stake for a potentially huge payout.

Regardless of the odds of winning, at least a small part of every player believes they could win big.

Someone has to win, after all, so why can’t it be me or you?

They’re Feeling Lucky

Even people who don’t regularly gamble might take a chance on a game if they’re feeling particularly lucky.

In fact, many big-time lottery winners have done just that-and it has paid off!

Take for instance Pearlie Mae Smith, who won a $429 million Powerball jackpot in the spring of 2016. She is just one of many lucky players whose winning numbers came to them in a dream.

If you’ve ever told someone you’re having a particularly good or lucky day, you’ve probably experienced this impulse in action.

It wouldn’t be unusual for them to encourage you to head to the casino or buy a ticket for an upcoming lottery draw.

They Want to Enjoy an Activity with Friends and Family

Though gambling can sometimes be a solitary hobby, that’s not always the case.

Many people engage in card games, lottery syndicates or other collaborative gambling activities with friends, family or co-workers.

The recent popularity of online casinos and lottery websites has made this type of bonding even more common.

Now, groups don’t have to be in the same city to enjoy these games. Instead, they can have their monthly poker game or euchre tournament online.

Gambling with friends can also take away some of the sting if you don’t end up a winner.

They Want to Support Charity Causes

Some people’s reason for gambling is more altruistic.

With most popular national lottery games around the world, a portion of the proceeds go toward state funding.

Even better, some lotteries or raffles are hosted entirely with the intention of giving back.

The People's Postcode Lottery, for instance, is a subscription-based lottery in the UK that gives 32% of sales to international and local charities.

This is another mindset that makes it a little easier to lose-which happens more often than not. Even if you don’t win big, at least your money goes to a good cause.

They Want Fun and Excitement

For a lot of people, what it boils down to is this: gambling is fun!

Anyone who has won a few dollars on a scratch ticket or sports bet knows the excitement of being a winner.

Scientific studies even show that the brain actually releases dopamine when you gamble. Dopamine is like a chemical messenger that is responsible for feelings of happiness and excitement.

Even more interesting, it’s been shown that this chemical release happens regardless whether a person wins or loses.

So of course people gamble-it’s fun and exciting even on a biological level!

The Risks of Gambling

Unfortunately, gambling is more than just fun and games for many people.

Because gambling does have such a strong psychological effect, it is something that can become addictive.

While there are many reasons for people to gamble recreationally and responsibly, some people do develop gambling addictions.

In those cases, people gamble quite simply because they can’t stop.

One of the most extreme cases, at least in relation to the lottery, is Adam Osmond. He spent over $250,000 on lottery tickets and didn’t even check if most of them won!

Some signs that a person’s enjoyment of gambling may be turning into an addiction include:

  • Persistent thoughts of gambling and obsession with beating the system
  • Feelings of uneasiness when unable to find opportunities to gamble
  • Hiding or lying about gambling habits
  • Inability to quit gambling, even when finances, personal relationships or professional opportunities are threatened

Fortunately, there are many organisations and resources available online to help identify and combat gambling and lottery addictions.


The reasons why people gamble are as varied as the people who enjoy it.

Whether it’s for the fun, the money or the relationships that are maintained, there are many reasons to gamble.

However, it is important to monitor your or your loved one’s relationship to gambling to prevent gambling addiction.

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Disclaimer: Remember that playing the lottery is supposed to be fun, but for some people it can also be addictive. If you are concerned that your lottery playing is becoming compulsive, read our Lottery Addiction Guide to see what options are open to you.

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