How does Gambling Affect the Brain?

Your brain while gambling

Learn about gambling and how it affects the brain in this short video below.

Video Credit: Balodis, I. & Querney, D. (2019).  Retrieved from

When you gamble, your brain’s reward system lights up, making you feel excited. You can also feel excited just thinking about gambling or being reminded of gambling (such as seeing an ad for your favourite casino or online site, pay day, memories of your last win or hearing others talk about their gambling wins).

However, it can be difficult to recognize when it’s time to stop playing. There are many reasons why people have trouble stopping gambling, including:

  • Rewards such as excitement, social participation and enjoyment
  • Trying to win money back (chasing losses)
  • Game features that keep you playing

Practicing safer play habits can help. But some individuals may begin to develop problems with gambling. When this happens, it’s important to seek help.

Brain Connections, a site that translates gambling research into an easy-to-understand way, describes how gambling can spiral from an enjoyable pastime into an addiction. Gambling can cause new habits to form that can be hard to break. This can lead an individual to feel out of control.  Watch the video for more information on how this unfolds.