Is Gambling Out of Boredom a Gateway?

You know that people tend to eat and drink more than they should when they have too much idle time on their hands. We’re all guilty of it to some extent. While many assume consumption is just a matter of killing time, there’s real science behind the behavior. When we’re bored, our brains lack stimulation, which causes dopamine levels to drop. This triggers our brains to take action to bring dopamine levels back up. Eating and drinking do the trick. Generally, this is a mitigable concern, but of course there are millions of Americans who battle obesity and alcoholism who don’t manage quite so well. Subsequently, one may infer that boredom can be considered a gateway (not an outright cause) to unhealthy levels of consumption.

This same reasoning has led you (someone who gambles) to ask – does gambling out of boredom also pose a potential threat to your behavioral health? Let’s review.

How Frequent Sports Betting and/or Casino Gaming When Bored Can Be a Gateway to a Deeper Gambling Problem

Gambling Has Similar Impact on Dopamine Levels

Like with eating and drinking, gambling can raise dopamine levels and make you feel “better” when boredom strikes. Interestingly, it’s not just about winning (or the potential to win) as research finds that losing money can trigger a release of dopamine, almost to the same extent as winning.

When your brain and body become accustomed to the psychological and physiological response of gambling under boredom, the table is set for habitual behavior. Over time, you may turn to gambling to alleviate feelings of boredom in nearly every instance. Look no further than what occurred during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020-21. A large number of casual-to-intermediate gamblers reported boredom as being a primary reason for significantly increased participation.

Open Access Has Made it Even Easier

There was a time when gambling to alleviate boredom may have been too cumbersome of a task to become habitual. If you had to hop in a car to head over to the nearest brick and mortar casino, there was a good chance that you’d find something else to do. But with the proliferation of legalized online sports betting and casino gaming, the supposed solution to boredom is in the palm of your hand. This open access can easily elevate frequency to the point that behavior becomes compulsive.

Moreover, sportsbooks and casinos know when and where to reach you. Operators are ramping up Q4 ad spending during a time of the year when people are home and indoors more. So while you attempt to pass the hours by enjoying a game as a casual fan, you’ll be inundated with enticing promotions to sign-up and starting gambling again.

Are You Gambling More?

Do you find that you’re gambling more often to pass the time? If so, we recommend that you seek out healthier activities to engage in. Commit to fitness, a creative hobby, or learn a new skill that can be applied to your profession. That said, you may find that despite them being more worthy activities, they don’t elevate your dopamine levels the way gambling does. If so, dedicate your next idle window to taking a simple 2-minute quiz to find out if you have a gambling disorder. If the results indicate so, immediately follow-up by booking a free 30 minute consultation to learn more about the next steps.

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