Pleasure, fear, thrill, in the casino, specific brain signals are activated when waiting for a reward and when receiving winnings at slot machines. Let’s take a closer look at what happens in our brains when we play slot machines.
Dopamine in the spotlight
We all know the thrill of placing a bet or playing a free game, and that’s part of the reason we’re drawn to casinos, whether physical in Las Vegas or somewhere else or online. Excellent online casino sites like JazzySpins for example, are attracting more and more players. The moment the ball spins in roulette, the moment you place a bet in poker or games like this, the reels of a slot machine spinning, we all know the feeling of anticipation. The brain has a function that provides pleasure as a ‘reward’, and it is precisely a hormone nicknamed the pleasure hormone, dopamine. The origins and usefulness of the chemical reaction of dopamine surges have been rather practical in the development and evolution of human beings, with this surge of pleasure hormone acting as a reward for an action that allows us to survive. For example, we take pleasure in eating a good meal, we have food supplies that give us energy and allow us to survive; we take pleasure in sexual relations or in taking care of our children, which encourages us to have children and to continue the human race. But nowadays in this period of abundance, we certainly need a reward less often literally to survive. Yet this hormone has kept this function, and is activated for much less critical activities, such as gambling. Dopamine is involved in motor control, attention, pleasure and motivation, sleep, memory and cognition. If you’re interested in learning more about the effects of gambling on your brain, here‘s a great in-depth article.
The pleasure of gambling without excess
For most people, gambling remains a small pleasure with no adverse effects. A game of chance can be compared to a glass of wine : for most people it will remain a simple pleasure to be consumed in moderation. Moderation and pleasure are the watchwords in this matter. As the UK Gambling Authority’s slogan goes ‘when the fun stops, stop’, it should remain a pleasure and not a need. Online gambling sites are becoming more responsible about this, many have policies or support for setting limits. A good question to ask yourself is ‘if I lose the amount of money I’m betting, will that be a problem for me? If the answer is yes, it indicates that there may be a problem, and that it would be worthwhile to get help. So dopamine is indeed the pleasure hormone that is produced for most people as a reaction to a pleasurable activity without further consequences. Like all good things, the secret is not to overdo it, and to do everything in moderation.