Why Gambling Is Good for You


Gambling has often been associated with addiction and crime throughout history. This has left mainstream society with the impression that gambling only leads to bad things.

But the truth is that this activity isn’t all bad. In fact, there are some distinct benefits you can gain from gambling.

The most obvious perk is entertainment, because people play casino games and the lottery for fun. Gambling provides unique thrills that few other hobbies can match.

Of course, many people are aware of gambling’s entertainment side. But research shows us that there are other benefits that not everybody knows about.

I’m going to discuss some research-backed reasons why gambling is good for you. I’ll also cover several other benefits that it provides.

1- Gambling Improves Your Health

Nobody thinks that playing a blackjack hand or rolling craps dice will have any positive impact on your health. After all, you’re barely burning any calories through these activities.

But research reveals that gambling does have a positive effect on your health

Through a study appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Yale researchers showed a positive correlation between recreational gambling and improved health.

Rani Desai, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, and her colleagues conducted interviews with 2,417 adults on their health and gambling habits.

She and her team compared the health of people who gamble versus those who don’t. The team measured health by levels of past or current alcohol use, substance abuse, depression, mental health treatment, general health, incarceration, and bankruptcy.

What Desai ultimately found is that gamblers have fewer instances of bad health indicators in comparison to non-gamblers.

“Although the underlying reasons remain hypothetical, proposed reasons included the increased activity, socialization, and cognitive stimulation that are related to engaging in gambling,” Desai noted.

“Such a mechanism would be consistent with the literature on healthy aging, which indicates that more socially and cognitively active elders are, in general, healthier.”

Desai and her team didn’t determine a reason why gambling leads to better health. She said that the study results could indicate that healthier people enjoy gambling.

Either way, it’s clear that gambling doesn’t always induce the stress that’s commonly portrayed in movies and TV shows.

2- Gambling Makes You Happier

Dr. Mark R. Dixon, a professor and coordinator of the Behavior Analysis and Therapy Program at Southern Illinois University, conducted research on gambling’s effect on people’s happiness. And the results, which appeared in the Research in Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, show that this hobby gives people more joy.

Dixon’s team had nursing home residents engage in different forms of gambling. They then used a 4-component analysis to measure happiness against the baseline.

The team discovered that the participants’ happiness levels increased when gambling versus the baseline. The baseline measurements, which included everything from sitting alone to watching television, had zero levels of happiness.

Those participating in the study played blackjack and 5-card stud poker. And the researchers determined with certainty that players got enjoyment out of both games.


One catch is that the participants weren’t betting real money.

But at the very least, Dixon’s research reveals that casino games themselves give people satisfaction.

3- You Learn Skills and Apply Them

Most people don’t look at gambling as a learning experience. But it actually is when considering the goals and strategy involved.

You must learn how to play any new casino game that you try. And some of these come with complex strategy that must mastered.

Blackjack is one game where you need to know a combination of rules and strategy. Here’s a quick synopsis of the rules that players need to learn.

  • Players receive two face-up cards
  • Dealer receives one upcard and one face-down card (North American rules)
  • Player can hit, stand, double down, or split (with a pair)
  • Player wins if their score is closer to 21 than the dealer’s score
  • The bet is a push if both hands tie
  • Dealer or player will “bust out” if they go over a score of 21
  • Player or dealer have a “natural blackjack” if their first two cards equal 21
  • Player receives a 3:2 or 6:5 pay-out on their original bet with a natural blackjack
  • Player isn’t supposed to touch their cards (live blackjack)

Learning the rules is only the first part of blackjack because you should also study strategy to improve your chances of winning. And you can use either a blackjack strategy chart or online trainer to better your skills.

Blackjack isn’t the only skill-based casino game, though. Let ‘Em Ride, Mississippi Stud, Poker, sports betting, three-card poker, and video poker all give skilled players a better chance to win.

Poker is the ultimate casino challenge because you’re competing against human opponents. Unlike a house-banked game that’s played against the casino, optimal strategy changes based on whom you’re playing against.

An Example

A simple example is if you’re playing heads-up against somebody who goes all-in on every hand.

Perhaps you normally like to play a small hand range and will fold the majority of your cards. But this instance calls on you to play a wider hand range to take advantage of bad decisions that your wild opponent is making.

Studying gambling strategy and working through various situations are skills that go beyond the casino tables.

4- Gambling Promotes the Use of Math

Most people don’t like the thought of doing math. But improving your math skills can be fun when including an entertaining casino game.

Most forms of gambling involve mathematics to some degree. This can be as simple as deciding how much your slots bet will be worth to working out detailed poker odds.

Here’s a simple math situation that involves playing slot machines.

  • You’re playing a slot machine with 50 paylines
  • You can change your coin size from $0.01 to $1
  • You don’t want to bet any more than $1 per spin
  • A $0.01 coin size means you’ll be risking $0.50 per spin
  • A $0.02 coin size means you’ll be risking $1 per spin

Here’s a more complex example involving poker pot odds, where you use math to decide whether a drawing hand is worth calling.

  • A pot is worth $70
  • Your opponent bets $10
  • The total pot is now $80
  • You must call $10 to stay in the hand
  • Divide 10 by 80 to find out what percentage you’re paying
  • Your pot odds are 12.5%

The next step is to figure out hand equity and “outs,” or the number of cards that will complete your drawing hand.

  • You have an open-ended straight draw (i.e., 5-6-7-8)
  • 8 cards will complete your straight (four 4s and 9s)
  • This gives you 8 outs
  • A common hand equity formula is: [outs x 2] +1 = equity
  • [8 x 2] + 1 = 17
  • Your hand equity is 17%
  • You should call, because your 17% hand equity is higher than your 12.5% pot odds

You can choose casino games based on the degree of math that you’re comfortable using.

You obviously don’t want to play poker if you’re not into complicated math. This is where simpler games like baccarat, craps, roulette, and slot machines come in handy.

Regardless of how easy or simple the game may be, the point is that you’ll use math sometimes and not even realize it. And this is a good way to subconsciously boost your mathematical abilities for other areas of life.

5- A Good Way to Relax and Socialize

Earlier I mentioned how the most obvious gambling benefit is entertainment. After all, these games wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t any fun.

Other benefits along these lines include relaxation and socialization.

Some people enjoy using a portion of their disposable income to blow off steam in the casino. They find that the challenge of blackjack or poker is a nice escape from their everyday life.

Others get thrills out of chasing big payouts, such as a progressive slots jackpot or blackjack side payouts. These give you the opportunity to pay a small amount to play for a large sum of money.

The social aspect can happen through a number of casino games, including baccarat, craps, poker, sports betting, and slot machines.


Craps is one of the best casino games with regard to socialization. The reason why is because many players bet on the shooter winning (pass line and come bets), rather than wagering with the house (don’t pass line and don’t come).

This majority of players who bet together also share wins and lament losses with each other. The end result is an exciting atmosphere that can’t be matched in the casino.

Here are some examples of how people socialize when playing casino games.

  • A group of friends sitting down to the baccarat table with each other
  • Somebody playing live dealer blackjack on their smartphone and having a conversation with the dealer
  • A few poker players chatting about an off-topic subject while playing
  • Friends making online sports bets and watching the game together
  • A couple of buddies visiting the casino and playing on slot machines next to each other

These scenarios represent some of the many ways that gambling can be turned into a social affair amongst friends or even strangers.

6- Money Management

Yet one more way that gambling benefits you is the practice of using money management, a.k.a. bankroll management.


We all have to manage finances, the bills, and handle other expenses. Gambling will help you out in these matters because you need to properly measure risk against your funds.

The first thing that you need to determine regarding bankroll management is how much money you can afford to risk. Players need to be completely comfortable with the thought that they could lose everything if luck doesn’t go their way.

The best way to figure this out is by determining your monthly/weekly income versus monthly/weekly expenses. Here’s an example.

  • You make $3,000 per month after taxes
  • You have $2,000 in expenses
  • This gives you up to $1,000 in disposable income
  • You choose to use $400 per month on gambling

The next step is to figure out what game you’re playing and tailor your bankroll management plan to this. Here’s an example using slot machines.

  • The average slots player loses around 300 bets per hour
  • You have $300 and would like to stretch this out for a few hours
  • 300 bets x 4 hours = 1,200 bets
  • 300 / 1,200 = 0.25
  • You want to choose a game that allows you to bet $0.25 or less per hour

Unfortunately, some gamblers bypass bankroll management and are surprised when their funds run out. But with just a few minutes of math, you can avoid this and better control your bankroll.

In the broader perspective, you’ll also improve your money management skills and apply these to handling your regular finances.


Attitudes towards gambling have slowly changed over the years. But a good portion of the general population still thinks that this is a bad habit for people to develop.

Most of this negativity revolves around gambling addiction, but the truth is that less than 2% of gamblers are considered the compulsive variety.

This means that the other 98%+ actually receive a variety of benefits from their hobby.

Research shows that some of the biggest benefits include improving your happiness and overall health. Other perks involve learning skills, improving math skills, socialization, and practicing money management.

My personal favorite gambling benefits include learning strategy and boosting my mathematical abilities. But you may enjoy one or more of the other aspects better.

Whatever the case may be, though, you’re likely to get some positive aspects out of gambling.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.