Strangely, this is what gambling is. Casinos and lotteries are just the joint venture of millions of people who join in to lose money for no proportional benefit. Anyone who sits down to calculate the odds of winning and losing knows that lottery is simply a losing deal. The fact that casinos and lotteries are stupendously profitable and produce no apparent good or service has only one reason: their obscene profit is the gamblers’ loss. In fact, economist call lottery the “stupidity test.”
Ironically, Americans (and certainly not the only ones) spend more in gambling than in all other forms of entertainment combined. The difference is that while in other forms of entertainment, you pay for some kind of satisfaction, in gambling, most people simply lose money with no gain.
Ever since the casinos opened in Singapore, three million visitors have crowded the premises, of which one million were tourists. Simultaneously, Singaporeans have spent 70 millions of dollars only in entrance fees (as of May 2010).
At this point, it all looks like gambling, more than a social or ethical problem is a kind of intelligence deficit problem. However, we should ask what it is that drives millions of people to gamble and buy lottery.
There is one factor we haven’t mentioned: the hope, slim as it might be, of winning a handsome reward. In fact, it is this possibility alone that gives players the reward they seek. It seems that we are wired to be rewarded while we wait for future benefits. The reward is a chemical. It is called the “happiness hormone” even if it is not really a hormone but a neurotransmitter that the brain produces to make the person feel good while waiting for the delayed gratification. Why Americans buy an average of 150 lottery tickets per person a year, is not only because they statistically hope to win, but because of the very probability of winning, which makes their brains reward them instantly.