Casino Life: Psychology and Culture of Casino Gambling

Phil Watts

Walking through the doors of a casino can feel like entering a portal into another dimension. A cacophony of electronic and human sounds assaults the ears as you watch people transacting large amounts of money. But this is no ordinary purchasing of goods or services where you quietly wave a card or hand out notes from a purse. Instead, money is swapped for colourful plastic chips that are placed, pushed, and thrown onto gaming tables with seemingly reckless abandon by a wide array of people, young, old, cultured, relaxed, happy, and grim.

Phil Watts, as an experienced forensic psychologist, knew a lot about human nature before he walked into his first casino at 40 years of age. He had treated clients with a wide range of difficulties including gambling, yet was still struck by the casino environment - an exciting world with its own culture, pace, rules, social etiquette, and shared expectations. This other world intrigued and surprised him. So, he wrote a book about it.

Casino Life will be of interest to those who seeking to know more about casinos and their psychological effects, those who seek to find out why others gamble, and those who do gamble - not as a treatment, but as a window to see what you are doing and how that has an impact upon you.

Along the way you will read about why people gamble, why gambling can become addictive and the treatments used to help problem gamblers, as well as the beliefs around gambling and some of the elaborate theories people use to explain why they try to defy mathematical odds. You will also learn about the fascinating cultural and behavioural patterns of everyday casino life.

About the Author

Dr Phil Watts has been working as a psychologist since 1990 in both the public and private sectors. He has been involved in professional training and community education covering issues such as sexual abuse, giving evidence in court, psychological assessment, internet pornography addiction, and risk-taking behavior. He teaches as an adjunct Associate Professor in clinical psychology at Canberra University and clinical master's supervisor at Murdoch University. He currently runs his own practice, Mindstate Psychology, where he specialises in treating a range of issues including trauma, internet pornography, legal issues, shared care, and parenting arrangements. Phil is also an occasional guest lecturer on specialist subjects at the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, and Murdoch University in both the psychology and law departments. He has written five previous books as well as co-authored the highly successful Fit to Practice: Everything you wanted to know about starting your own psychology practice in Australia but were afraid to ask.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1 - Why Do People Gamble?
It's All About Money, Right?
The Big Win
The Winning Rush
Take This Feeling Away
  • Chapter 2 - The Beliefs which Maintain Gambling
Chasing Losses
The Power of Many
Winning Theories
Conspiracy Theories
  • Chapter 3 - Casino Culture
Join the Club
Who Visits the Waterhole?
The Culture of Games
And the Dog Salivates
  • Chapter 4 - Money Management, Treatment, and the Future of Gambling
Problem Gambling
Money Management: How to be a Winner!
Money Management: Responsible Gambling
Treating Problem Gambling
Future of Casino Gambling