Gambling has many forms that have formed – or have been formed – over the centuries. They all have one thing in common, though – they are completely unpredictable. Some say that the first gambling games were born out of the practice of throwing stones or bones and reading the future from their position – these practices are similar enough to the act of throwing the dice for this theory to be plausible. Whichever the case, gambling, and chance have always been part of humanity’s life, from tossing coins to playing the slots and dreaming of progressive jackpots.
“Dreaming” is the keyword here, though, especially when it comes to lotteries and certain games offered by casinos, land-based and online alike. Especially in the case of the latter, people are aware of their chances to win big – the odds of hitting a jackpot at an average slot machine are 1 to several million, and the odds of winning the lottery are usually one to tens or hundreds of millions. People still play them both, hoping to become overnight millionaires or simply seeking the thrill of the game and the pleasure of dreaming big.
Lotteries and slot machines have a lot in common, not only their random nature and their big wins. Both of them can serve as textbook cases for games of chance since they are both completely random – and they are required by law to be so. Lotteries are usually run by state-owned companies printing tickets and holding draws week after week. Millions of people dream of winning the big prizes offered by these lotteries – sometimes they are spectacular, like last year’s record-breaking Powerball jackpot worth over $1 billion – even though the odds of them winning are at the same low level each time.
Casinos are different from lotteries in offering something extra on top of the chance of winning money: entertainment. Most casino games are fun to play, and many casino players have admitted to not being interested in the big win at all but in the entertainment value of the games – and the thrill of taking an extra risk. The entertainment value of casino games is often exploited by entities not directly linked to the gambling industry. Just take a look at all the social casinos, slot machines, and table games available free (or in a “freemium” form) in all the smartphone app marketplaces around the world. Social casinos and simulated gaming portals are quite popular all over the world, offering players the chance to feel the thrill of playing the games without spending a dime (unless they want to – but this is a story for another day).