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Is having a bet on sports a bad idea given human nature?

By Admin on August 19, 2012 in Betting Guide, Psychology

All professional punters and semi-professionals aside, the majority of people bet on sports for extra entertainment. People might hope to get real lucky there and then, but in our years of experience we see that they don’t expect to make a profit in the long run. They are simply happy that most serious online sports books pay back 90-97% of one wagered unit. This allows them plenty of entertainment value out of every deposited dollar, pound or euro. Numerous e-mails back and forth with thousands of sports book users have solidified our views on this. We respect the position of the leisure punter and fully understand why he thinks like this.

bet on sports - Human nature

We all have been taught what the world’s oldest profession is, bookmaking is said to be a close second.  After pondering that for about half a second post laugh we dare say that this is due to our genes.

To bet on sports triggers a lot of emotions. If you have a bet on for a NHL fixture and your team is down 3-0 after two periods against the run of play you most likely won’t feel too happy about it. When your team finally gets to it and win the game 4-3 seconds before the end you most likely will be fist pumping, high fiving your friends and shouting happy phrases.


The mixture of excitement and instant gratification from both the sports and betting in our opinion is a very powerful thing. Also, just imagine all the cognitive biases that we as human beings allow interfering with our ability to make logical, value based betting decisions. We will dig deep into the psychological aspects in many articles, but for now let’s keep it nice and simple.

Does human nature dictate that sports betting should be illegal?

Letting the above marinade in thoughts for a while; do you think it is a problem that people are attracted to betting on sports because of this? Do you let your brain give the right side a green light to focus solely on the extremely few people that develop a gambling disorder? Or do you focus on the fact that approximately 99.5% seem to possess minds capable of handling gambling just fine?

If you picked the first path, we offer little sympathy. We understand the pain element as we have seen the devastating effect of problem gambling ourselves a few times. It is not a pretty sight. Then again, you can say the same about drug abuse, alcoholism and a wide range of other potential disorders and diseases.

For us the fact that we are talking of a minority, that’s statistically relatively insignificant is decisive. We find it extremely harsh to deny the mentally capable 99.5% the freedom to bet. You might want to say that is cynical very cynical and cold, but in some ways trying to prohibit people from betting on sports it is the same as prohibiting people from having sex. After all, people can get addicted to that too. You could go one step further ad say fast food should be prohibited too for the same reasons. Surely obesity cost society more than problem gambling over the course of any given day. Would anyone even try to argue against that?

As if that is not arguments enough; various available research, and even a high court decision from a well-respected European country support the view that problem gambling is not likely to be a sports betting problem. These papers suggest problem gambling is much more likely to come from say online poker or casino games. We will touch more on that in a separate article.

Betting on sports - the bottom line of entertainment

We started this article by saying most people bet for entertainment value. To bet on sport is no different than being entertained by going to the cinema, having a meal outside or reading a book. At least this holds true for 99.5% of the population. Keep in mind; entertainment is not free. You expect to pay money to go see a movie; the same is the case for the vast majority of us when betting on sport, but when you bet on sports you may get lucky and bag a good win.

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