Americans lost $119 billion on gambling last year

1. Escapism, entertainment, and boredom: The places that people go to gamble — like casinos, hotels, card rooms, bookmakers, and even online gaming websites — offer an escape from everyday life, and the opportunity to do something different, usually with a possibility of hitting a large payday. The vast majority of people who play the lottery don’t win, but they all get the opportunity to dream about what they would do if they did win. In this sense, gambling can be seen as a form of entertainment, and those multi-billion dollar losses are the cost of being entertained, just as people pay to watch sports, listen to music, or play computer games.

2. Social activity: Gambling is a deep rooted part of American culture — 80 percent of Americans gamble at least once per year. Gambling with friends and family — whether that’s in a casino in Vegas, or a card game at home, or making football or basketball bets among work colleagues — is widespread.

3. Excitement and thrill: The sense of anticipation and risk creates an adrenaline rush and the payoff releases a surge of dopamine.