Psychologists have traditionally characterized compulsive gambling as an "impulse control disorder," and treated it by addressing the patient's obsessive tendencies. But according to Prof. Pinhas Dannon of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center, not all pathological gamblers fit the same profile.
Though gambling is typically associated with casino games, strategic sports betting is rapidly gaining in popularity and that's a whole other ball game, Prof. Dannon explains. "Sports gamblers seem to believes themselves the cleverest of all gamblers. They think that with experience and knowledge such as player's statistics, manager's habits, weather conditions, and stadium capacity they can predict the outcome of a game better than the average person."
But in a study published in the journal Psychopathology, Prof. Dannon and Dr. Ronen Huberfeld of the Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center determined that neither betting experience nor knowledge of the arcane details of the game is connected to successful betting outcomes. Indeed, he says, the two most successful gamblers in their study had no prior experience in gambling or knowledge of the sport in question.
These results indicate that sports gamblers are operating under an illusion of control and power unrelated to real-life outcomes, says Prof. Dannon. This should inform how psychologists approach sports gamblers, who need to be treated using different methods than their casino-addicted counterparts.
No predictor of success
For their study, the researchers focused on the field of soccer betting, one of the most popular and growing forms of sports gambling. They recruited three groups of participants, including 53 professional sports gamblers, 34 soccer fans who were knowledgeable about the sport but had never gambled, and finally, 78 non-gamblers with no prior knowledge of soccer at all.
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University