What Does Retail Therapy and Online Casino Gambling Have in Common

Retail therapy and online casino gambling can be quite similar in that both of them make you feel happier. The effects of shopping on your brain can lead to addiction and again the same case is true with online gambling. Anyone that has partaken in either of these activities knows the sheer joy of doing that little something just for you, whether it's buying a new outfit or spinning the reels on your favorite slot machine. In this article, we're going to take a look at the brain-based effects of retail therapy and online casino gambling and how you can spot the signs of a problem.

Retail Therapy and Online Gambling

Does Online Retail Therapy or Casino Gambling Help You Feel Better?

There have been numerous studies into the effects of retail therapy, and it all suggests that there's a lot of psychological and therapeutic value to both shopping and online gambling once it's done in moderation. This is true whether you are buying or playing online, or even visiting your favorite boutiques or casinos for a few hours. Most people who enjoy these things experience an emotional boost and this is where it can get out of hand if you don't moderate it.

There are a number of reasons why both online casino gaming or retail therapy can make you feel better and these are explored below.

  • A Sense of Control: Research has shown that making decisions whether it be to wager on slots or table games or purchase new luxury items can help reinforce a sense of personal control and for some, it eases feelings of sadness. In 2014 a study from the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that retail therapy makes people feel immediately happier and it can also help fight lingering sadness. In turn, this can be applied to playing your favorite casino games. That sense of excitement and the thrill of seeing the reels land a winning combination offers an immediate mood boost and for many, this is what they are after. There was another study carried out by the University of Michigan in 2014 that showed that buying things you enjoy can be up to 40 times more effective at giving people a sense of control over not purchasing things. The study also showed that those who actually bought things were three times happier than those participants that only browsed.
  • Visualization and Stimulation of the Senses: Retail therapy and online gambling can stimulate the senses. The colorful displays and bright lights of both online casinos and boutiques create a sensory experience that can take you away from life for a little while. Online casinos show you everything you want and you can get your imagination going as you project yourself into satisfying outcomes.
  • Dopamine Release: Before a purchase is even made dopamine is released. Just browsing or looking at no deposit bonuses or casino games can have a positive impact because of the simple anticipation of a possible reward or treat for yourself. This releases dopamine which is known as the feel-good hormone. Dopamine works by increasing your desire to keep looking for things that make you feel good and if this is casino gaming or retail therapy this is what you will search out when you want to feel good.
  • Moods benefit from online shopping: Those who enjoy online shopping have probably experienced filling up their online cart only to later delete all the items or abandon them because they feel satisfied. For many, they have already completed the mental journey. This may be likened to searching for the best casino bonuses and thinking about all the possibilities of getting free money to play with. Dopamine release can also come in the form of waiting for your purchases to arrive. Think about subscriptions where you don't know exactly what you are going to get each month. This unknown increases anticipation and dopamine fuelled by your excitement. This is similar to casino promotions and bonuses. You are never fully sure of the rewards you'll get and you wait with anticipation each month to see what special bonuses the casino will release.

When Retail Therapy or Online Casino Gambling Becomes a Problem

Whether it's shopping online or betting on slots and table games at online casinos, you have to be careful not to take it to the extreme. Shopping and indeed casino gambling can become an addiction and for many people around the world, it has. Both of these can shift from being therapeutic to problematic especially if you use them as a way to deal with anxiety, stress, or a means of gaining control. There are specific terms attached to shopping addiction including compulsive buying disorder. It has been estimated that 5% of Americans have compulsive buying disorder and this is increasing due to the rise in online shopping. This condition has a lot in common with other disorders including gambling addiction and online casinos make it easier for addicts to curb their urges. You can play games at any time and with mobile gambling available, it has never been easier to access the best European online casinos.

Global Gambling Market

Global Gambling Market

The gambling market as a whole reached $457 billion gross wins in 2019 and is expected to reach $523 billion by 2024. A recent study by H2 Gambling Capital taken in 2020 has already found that COVID-19 is having an impact on gambling markets around the world. They have published data that suggests that the minimum drop in the global gambling market will be around 1% for the gross win in 2020. Sports betting is the most popular gambling activity in the world accounting for 36% but casino gambling is second - and only increasing with many more USA online casinos opening up for instance. Both of these can be classified further into land-based and online. Land based gambling has been decreasing year on year while online gambling continues to grow, especially in countries like Australia. The total online gambling in 2019 was $61.5 billion in the US and this is expected to grow to over $89 billion by 2024. It is also suggested that restrictions created by the COVID pandemic could see an increase in the online share of the global gambling gross move from 13.4% to 14.7% for 2020.

The global gambling market consists of six regions which are Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and Central/South America. The fastest-growing market is Asia with North America and Europe in second and third. The USA is still, however, the largest single market and accounts for $119.5 billion US dollars, 30.2% of the total global gambling gross win in 2019. In fact, the USA, China, Japan, Italy, and the United Kingdom account for 70.80% of the 2019 total gambling gross win.

When looking at problem gambling, the Alberta Gambling Research Institute in Canada reported that there are wide variations in problem gambling rates across the world and these range from 0.5% to 7.6%. The average rate across all countries is 2%. The study carried out in 2017 showed Macau at 6% followed by Hong Kong and then Australia at just under 4%. The United States was just over 2% while Canada was under 2%. The UK was under 1%. The studies carried out into problem gambling and the negative effects that it can have has led to a number of regulatory bodies imposing stricter guidelines on casino operators as well as restrictions on advertising. This can clearly be seen in the UK where the UK Gambling Commission has been enforcing new laws to tackle problem gambling and insisting that casino operators adhere to stricter rules especially in relation to casino bonuses.

Signs That Indicate Problem Gambling

The signs that indicate a retail therapy addiction and online gambling addiction are quite similar and they include:

  • Preoccupation with and difficulty resisting buying unneeded items. For gambling, this is a difficulty in resisting playing online casino games.
  • Spending time researching and looking at items you may not need. For gambling, this can be constantly looking for casino bonuses.
  • Financial difficulties. In gambling, this can happen when you start spending over your budget.
  • Problems at work, school, or home. This can happen when you spend all your time on online casinos or online shopping sites.

Because of the impact problem gambling can have, many regulatory authorities around the world now insist that online casinos have responsible gambling features in place. This will often include a dedicated page on their website that lists a number of questions that customers can ask themselves if they feel they are developing a problem. This page will include links to helpful organizations. Online casinos in 2021 also include responsible gambling features that players can use at their discretion. They include the ability to set deposit limits, set game session limits, and even self-exclusion periods. The focus on responsible gaming is becoming more prevalent and the best casinos will have these features in place.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Online Gambling

COVID and Online Casinos

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen so many people confined to their homes. They can only leave the house for specific reasons. Many began to succumb to the boredom of lockdown and online gambling served as an exciting break. Some received emails or saw online casino ads offering free spins on top slots or free bets and thought why not. It's a great way to kill some time and you never know, you could win. If you've been tempted, there are some guidelines you should put in place before you start spinning the reels or adding your card details. There is a slogan you should follow which states, "When the fun stops. Stop." It was devised as part of a responsible gambling initiative and it has never been truer than in the pandemic.

If you are going to play real money games online, here are a few rules to follow.

  • Set you budget before you start.
  • Only bet what you can afford.
  • Never chase your losses.
  • Don't bet if you're getting annoyed or angry.
  • Never put gambling before your work or home life.

These same rules can be applied to retail therapy. The pandemic has seen an increase in online shopping too with many looking to relieve boredom. Financial difficulties due to furloughs have seen a lot of people turn to retail therapy to cope with the stress and according to figures released, mobile shopping has increased 7.7% but retail therapy doesn't seem to be enough and more and more people are searching for other ways to stay entertained. Online gambling is something that is being used and online casinos are seeing major growth and it is estimated that online gambling revenues will reach $102.9 billion by 2025. Online casinos are weathering the pandemic better than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Customers can play via their mobiles, tablets, and desktops and receive their winnings effortlessly through e-wallet payment processors.

Sports betting fans are turning to online casinos and virtual sports betting as sporting events were cancelled around the world. Online gambling revenues for online casinos in New Jersey increased by 65.7% when land-based casinos were forced to close in March 2020. Pennsylvania reported similar figures as did online casinos around the world. Unfortunately, behaviors such as online gambling and retail therapy that create excitement can also become an addiction and cause more harm than good. Doing these in moderation is the difference between happiness and enjoyment and compulsiveness.

Regulators and online casinos around the world must pay attention to how consumers are betting and ensure that responsible gambling is at the forefront.

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