Legalized betting has grown into a $100 billion industry. In fact, according to the Gallup Lifestyle Poll, over 65% of all people in the United States gamble.
The Gallup people found that about 17% of Americans will bet on professional sports in any given year.
Its 2.1.2008 article 'One in Six Americans Gamble on Sports' states that gender, age, income, and education are good indicators if you bet or not on professional sports.
For instance, men are nearly twice as likely to bet on professional sporting events than are women'”statistically, it's 22% for males versus 13% for females.
What about age? Gallup found that younger people are more likely to bet than older folks'”26% for those 18 to 34 years of age versus 18% for people 35 to 54 years of age, and only 11% for those over 55 years.
Middle-income Americans (with incomes of $30,000 to $75,000 [$75K]) bet about 17% of the time, while lower-income people (less than $30K) try their luck just 6% of the time.
Those in the upper-income bracket (over $75K) take the plunge about 28% of the time.
Page two continues with statistics for people with or without a college degree, and overall your chances of becoming addicted to gambling.
And, if you have yourself a college diploma, than you are much more likely to place your bet than if you don't have that B.S., B.A, or even that Ph.D. degree. About 24% of all college graduates bet while only 14% of non-graduates gamble.
And, that gambling addiction is just like any other addiction, such as those addictions involving drugs, cigarettes, or sex.
Science has gotten into the act of analyzing that gambling bug. Scientists want to find out why people continue to gamble when they continue to lose. They ask: What happens in the brain?
According to the 2.5.2010 MSNBC article Why do losers keep gambling? Brain to blame 'Gamblers sink an increasing sum of money into their efforts to win. Over the last 20 years legalized betting has grown tremendously; it's now a $100 billion industry.'
And, 'More than 65 percent of Americans gamble, according to Gallup's annual Lifestyle Poll conducted last year, and up to 5 percent of those betters develop an addiction to the activity.'
Canadian behavior neuroscientist Catharine Winstanley comments on this possibility of becoming addicted to gambling.
Dr. Winstanley continues her comments on page three.
Dr. Winstanley, from the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, states, 'For most individuals, gambling is enjoyable and harmless, but for others, it is as destructive as being addicted to drugs.' [MSNBC]
When people make a bet and they come close to winning ('oh, just missed it'), scientists have found, through brain scans (functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] scans), that the brain's activity is the same as if the person had actually won the bet.
Generally, scientists have found that different parts of the brain are more active when gamblers clearly lose than when they win or nearly win.
That is, when near-misses occur, the brain has difficulty differentiating that near-miss with an actual win. So, the gambler still feels he or she 'can' win, and more betting results, in many cases.
Scientists are not sure why compulsive gambling happens, but they are betting they will be able to find out in the future.
Page four provides some help to those of us out there that may feel they are becoming addicted to gambling.
In the meantime, just remember that you have a 5 in 100 chance of becoming addicted to gambling.
The website of Gamblers Anonymous is: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/.
The organization states, 'The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling. There are no dues or fees for Gamblers Anonymous membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions."
"Gamblers Anonymous is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause."
"Our primary purpose is to stop gambling and to help other compulsive gamblers do the same.'