Online casinos have come a long way – and not just by adding more pixels to make the user experience more pleasing to the eye.  They’ve also sought to add a number of interesting features to their digitalized casino games.

VR casinos are on the rise

VR is making its way into online casinos

Most importantly, they’ve also made the concept of Virtual Reality Gambling happen, which was once only a pipe dream.  So, now when you choose to play at a VR Casino, you my friend welcome to a whole new level!

But does VR gambling not carry the same risks as all forms of gambling, you ask? Sure. Gambling is often fought as the scourge, wreaking havoc on families, in some cases causing an epidemic of poverty and abuse.

Calling on all over-achievers and VR gamblers!

That said, there is not that much in the public realm when it comes to the root causes of gambling – that is the general mechanics of addiction that are hard-wired into our brains.

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Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter in the brain

It is commonly believed that monetary gain is the cause of gambling behavior in humans. Not so fast – some studies suggest that we should dig deeper.

The answer to throwing more light on gambling addiction may come from an unlikely source – the study of high-achievers.

Bestselling author Steven Kotler has teamed up with Jamie Wheal, an expert on peak performance and leadership.  Their question: what drives them to succeed?

Navy Seals are no strangers to high levels of Dopamine

The result of their collaboration is an award-winning publication Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work.

So what did they find? And what does it have to do with gambling and addiction? They concluded that all the success could in fact be attributed to altered states of consciousness.

Gimme my VR fix!

In essence, all these high-achieving outliers relied on a secret (or rather not-so-secret) weapon to boost their motivation (inspiration), ability to deliver, and have an impact.

Dopamine is partly behind our porn addiction

Studies point to dopamine as the driver behind our addiction behavior 

Their one big source of this altered state is the brain chemical dopamine. Next, they tried to identify ways to getting this so-called dopamine fix. They boiled it down to three ways: porn, social media, and alcohol.

What’s more, it has been further corroborated that affinity toward – gambling in general and VR gambling in particular – is due to the need to feed the same dopamine receptors.

Our drive for a Dopamine fix can lead to pathological gambling

Already in 2012 Linnet et al., 2011 and Joutsa et al., independently confirmed that

 Mesolimbic dopamine (DA), the chief neuromediator of incentive motivation, is indeed released to a larger extent in pathological gamblers (PG) than in healthy controls (HC) during gambling episodes, as in other forms of compulsive and addictive behavior.

Thus, we can conclude that the craving for the chemical dopamine that drives and motivates high-achievers also motivates gambling behavior.

But can we beat the system?

We talked about the social ramifications of individuals getting sucked into gambling – and there is a lot of opportunities out there – casinos, sports betting, stock market, crypto currencies, you name it.

Dopamine to blame for addictive behavior

Gambling behavior can be in fact supported by Dopamine

But realizing full well that we are up against the powerful brain chemical dopamine, what can we do about it?  Is knowing ourselves before we wreck ourselves enough? Are there any strategies to mitigate the risk connected with addictive gambling or even beat the house?

Yes and no. When it comes  VR casinos, there is a saying that the house always wins. There are however some methods that can be used to “tilt” the system to one’s advantage. This is something along the lines of the famous casino scene from Rainman starring Tom Cruide and Dustin Hoffmann.

Dustin Hoffman as Rain man counting cards in game of blackjack

In it, Tom’s autistic younger brother counts cards at a blackjack table. The strategy works for a little while, but soon it raises red flags with the casino staff and the two are promptly escorted out. In this case super-human ability beat the system – and dopamine or emotions were completely blocked out.

Spotting signs of addiction

In the long run, the system in casinos- online, VR or otherwise – is stacked against the players – and the dopamine in our brains is not helping. Remember, its place is to keep us happy – and it couldn’t care less if that happiness comes from gambling addiction. Keep in mind, dopamine is a good friend, but a bad master.

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