The brain is a fascinating organ in our body. It releases chemicals and hormones according to our needs and behaviours. It adapts to our surroundings and creates new connections every day.
Everyday activities influence our brain functions. The medical field conducted several studies about gambling habits, hormone triggers and changes during casino sessions. Let’s see some results and comprehend if there are any differences between sports and esports bettors and casino games gamblers.
The motivation to bet
A Statista survey published in 2017 recorded some answers regarding bettors’ motivation to engage in wagering in sports betting. Another Springer article from 2020 revealed further information about the bettors’ psychology.
About 45% of people answered that betting makes sports events more enjoyable. They focus and live the game more intensely by betting on outrights or props. 34% of the survey answers also indicated that people bet because it makes them more competitive and eager to win against their friends without actually gambling in a casino.
Other percentages of respondents talk about feeling in control and using their sports knowledge to win. All these answers reflect how the body adapts to the situation and how it regulates or leashes out hormone levels.
There are more studies about betting and gambling preferences than brain connections and hormones because they are easier to conduct. These studies have shown three categories every bettor or gambler falls into online, land-based and hybrid.
According to a set of data statistics by CasinoBonusCa, a casino bonus reviewing platform, it turns out that over 53% of bettors wager exclusively on online platforms. About 28% pick the hybrid method, and 19% bet exclusively in land-based casinos.
There is not much reliable data differentiating bettors from gamblers. These stats combine the two categories and follow their activity on casino websites, time spent, average money spent and other metrics.
Sports bettors tend to bet more on more significant events, especially global ones such as the Super Bowl, FIFA World Cup or the ATP Tour, rather than simply wagering on their favourite team. Gamblers who play slots spend smaller amounts but more often, and card games fans spend more, particularly at Roulette tables.
There are no comparison studies explaining if there are any differences in hormone levels between online, hybrid and offline betting. However, some specialists suggest that being in a physical casino can significantly increase dopamine levels due to a higher competitive environment.
Gambling and hormones
Gambling can trigger changes in several hormones and body chemicals, but one of the most important links between gambling and the brain is the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This neurotransmitter changes the psychology and perspective of the player by motivating.
Dopamine recompenses reward-motivated behaviour. When you engage in a pleasurable activity like gambling, dopamine is released in the brain’s reward centres, creating a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. This release of dopamine is what is often referred to as a “dopamine spike.”
In gambling, the dopamine spike occurs when the gambler anticipates a win, receives a win, or even thinks about gambling. It doesn’t matter whether you bet on sports or gamble; this neurotransmitter works the same for both cases. The anticipation of winning releases more dopamine than the actual win, leading to a cycle of compulsive gambling behaviour in particular cases.
Cortisol is a stress-release hormone that gets activated in stressful situations. Watching a sports event or waiting for your poker raise is stressful for your body. Therefore the cortisol levels would also grow.
Adrenaline increases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. In other words, it triggers your body to be more aware and feel more intensely. Gambling can be a high-stakes activity that can trigger the release of adrenaline.
Endorphins are a group of hormones that can reduce pain and create a sense of well-being. Endorphins are released during gambling and may contribute to the pleasurable feelings associated with winning. They are also triggered when consuming alcohol or eating your favourite food.
Serotonin is another vital neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. Several studies have associated low serotonin levels with impulse control disorders, including gambling addiction.
Having all these hormone changes doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing at first. Hormones often adjust during your day. They modify when you sleep, walk, eat or read the latest news.
However, you should be careful and understand what your body needs. You must find pleasurable activities other than betting or gambling to ensure you have dopamine spikes in different circumstances.
Additionally, you might want to pay attention to how often you engage in gambling, how it makes you feel, and your spending habits. If you think that betting has become a daily activity you can’t skip, inform yourself about self-exclusion programs and give yourself time to get away from this activity.