The past few decades saw the rise of an ever-growing dispute – does gambling cause stress or does it relieve stress? Gambling is generally considered a harmless recreational activity, and as such, it is believed not to cause stress. This is confirmed by many gamblers – in a survey, 500 UK citizens confirmed that they use gambling as a way to relieve stress.
What is more, a 2015 Australian survey showed that more and more Australians use gambling to reduce everyday stress levels. And yet, in spite of survey results, the dispute continues. Psychologists and behavioural analysts have long been working on the relationship between gambling and stress in an attempt to find out whether gambling causes stress or relieves it.
Amazingly, experts have found out that gambling can actually do both – some people relax and reduce stress levels when they gamble, but others actually increase their stress levels while gaming. Today’s article delves into the issue of stress in gambling, explaining which gender is more prone to gambling when under stress, and focusing on how gambling can relief or cause stress.
Males under stress are more likely to gamble
According to a recent study, men under stress are prone to taking risks and indulge in gambling more than non-stressed males. In comparison, when women experience high stress levels, they become less likely to take risks. Researchers asked a group of males and females to participate in a game called the Balloon Analogue Risk Task, which is not unlike a casino game.
Essentially, the game requires participants to inflate balloons. They get money for it, too – each pump is worth five cents. Researchers also told the group that they could cash out by clicking a button whenever they wanted. The intriguing part was that balloons had a randomly determined breakpoint, and participants were not given funds for exploded balloons.
This game, albeit simple, was generally valid for predicting real-world impulsivity. So, how did participants perform? Interestingly, men and women in the control group showed overall similar levels of risk-taking, with balloons being inflated about 40 times on average. On the other hand, the group of stressed women showed a decrease in levels of risk-taking, which amounted to nearly 30% less than stressed males – stressed women inflated the balloons only 32 times on average.
What about men? While playing the game, the group of stressed men inflated balloons as much as 48 times on average. Researchers made several conclusions, the most important of which is that when men are stressed, they become more likely to enter risky financial situations. In real life, risky financial activities include gambling among other activities.
On the other hand, women under stress are less prone to gambling and other financially risky situations. The balloon game had previously been employed when testing groups of adolescents and teenagers.
How gaming relieves everyday stress
According to recreational gamblers, playing casino games can substantially reduce everyday stress. Experts say that there are several reasons behind it. First of all, land-based casinos are created in a way, which attempts to relax players as much as possible.
Of course, online casinos can not take advantage of this and so they rely on games to relax players. According to researchers, all kinds of casino games, but slots, in particular, can significantly reduce everyday stress.
Slot games utilise an array of special effects, which positively affect players’ mood and thus help relieve stress. What is more, playing casino games is a social activity – to many, playing casino games is the only way to interact with like-minded people.
Whereas playing slot games at land-based casinos is not regarded as a social activity, table games offer a completely different experience. Furthermore, players can check the rating of casino sites, play on the go and also they can interact with one another in online casinos by using instant message technologies.
Problem gambling increases stress levels
Whereas recreational gaming can significantly reduce stress levels, problem gaming is believed to do the exact opposite. When players gamble, they often forget about their anxieties or transform their anxiety into excitement.
But when one does not know when to stop gaming, gaming can quickly work its way into everyday life. When this happens, gambling impulses overcome all everyday activities, and that is when problem gambling occurs.
When gambling gets into every fiber of a gambler’s everyday life, the only way for them to reduce their stress levels is by playing casino games. The more a gambler plays, the bigger their chance to lose – but losses increase stress levels.
Overall, experts have found out that gambling is an activity which generally reduces stress levels. But when gaming goes out of control, it can do the exact opposite and make a person even more anxious than they used to be.
In order to experience the benefits of gaming and to lead a stress-free life, always monitor your gaming activity and make sure to stop if things are getting out of control.