Playing to win, Americans still lost a staggering $119 billion in gambling
Many different factors at play behind nation's gambling addiction
The United States leads the world in the amount of money lost to gambling -- a staggering $119 billion in 2013 alone. That's more money than Bill Gates has, with $72 billion or Warren Buffett with $58 billion. That amount is only $11 billion less than the two men put together.
Gambling addicts comprise about 1.8 percent of the U.S. population. These people frequently wind up losing everything - homes, families, lives.
The excitement that the casino offers is a respite from the humdrum, mundane everyday life most Americans lead.
Different factors keep Americans going back to the one-armed bandits and the roulette wheels:
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1. People like to gamble for entertainment. The excitement that the casino offers is a respite from the humdrum, mundane everyday life most Americans lead. These multi-billion dollar losses are the cost of being entertained, just as people pay to watch sports, listen to music or play computer games.
Since many Americans spend most of their waking hours toiling for money, the excitement to lose everything - or gain a lot, becomes very intoxicating for some people.
2. Gambling is a social activity. Gambling is a deep rooted part of American culture, as 80 percent of all Americans say they gamble at least once a year. Gambling with friends and family is a widespread and accepted fact of modern life.
3. Gambling provides excitement and adrenaline. When you receive a hug from a loved one, dopamine levels rise; when you engage in sex, dopamine levels spike; when you win a bet, they shoot up as well. Since many Americans spend most of their waking hours toiling for money, the excitement to lose everything - or gain a lot, becomes very intoxicating for some people.
4. Gambling is good for self-esteem: Casinos roll out the red carpet and dish out complimentary drinks, free stays in suites, shopping vouchers and other gifts for big-time gamblers. Giving away winnings to friends or family, tipping service staff large amounts or making gifts to charity are also a big boost for self-esteem.
For problem bettors, the issue is often addiction. The primary addiction may not always be the rush of winning. Some research suggests that gamblers get the biggest kick from coming close to winning -- and then losing. And some gamblers may be addicted to the aforementioned escapism or self-esteem highs.
As the global gambling industry continues to rise, there is a never-ending line of people attracted to the insurmountably high stakes gambling offers.
As the global gambling industry continues to rise, there is a never-ending line of people attracted to the insurmountably high stakes gambling offers. Overall, it's a very sad commentary on lives lived for monetary gain - with the transient excitement of winning big or losing everything remaining an inescapable goal for many.
Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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