The Psychology of Chasing Losses in Sports Betting

The Psychology of Chasing Losses in Sports Betting

The Psychology of Chasing Losses in Sports Betting

Published:

Jul 9, 2024

Published:

Jul 9, 2024

Published:

Jul 9, 2024

Chasing losses is an incredibly dangerous behavior in the world of gambling. Loss-chasing occurs when an individual continues to gamble - often with more bets and/or higher wager amounts that usual - in hopes of winning back what was lost previously. A clinician at Birches Health has stated that chasing losses is the most frequent betting behavior he’s seen among individuals with gambling disorder. 

Chasing losses can lead one to spiral out of control and onto a track to addiction. Unfortunately, this cycle can be difficult to break. In this guide, you will learn about the psychology of chasing losses and ways to stop the cycle.  

What is “chasing losses” in sports betting?

Chasing losses can happen in any type of gambling, including sports betting. It occurs when an individual bets more to try to recoup losses. They will at times convince themselves they are on the verge of a winning streak or "due" for a win.

Loss-chasing can alter one’s reality, as individuals can feel certain that they will win next bet(s). This can be dangerous because it can lead to spiraling into continuous problematic behaviors and potentially eventual Gambling Disorder.

Why do people chase losses when betting? 

People can chase losses because they feel close to or due for a win or winning streak. They may truly believe inside that they will win, even if the odds are naturally stacked against them in the game. Many bettors feel that they have "around a 50% chance" of winning (it's always less than that in reality) in many games, so if they have lost many times in a row, they can rationalize continuing to bet by thinking things like, "I can't possibly continue to lose again and again… I have to win eventually!"

Chasing losses can stem from a number of problems, such as impulsivity, hasty decisions or impaired inhibitions, especially if drugs or alcohol are involved. The more losses a gambler has, the more desperate they may feel to win that money back. Some then place larger or more bets to chase those losses. 

The psychology behind chasing losses 

Alexithymia is a personality trait associated with poor emotional processing that has been shown to correlate with chasing losses in gambling. Essentially, a person high in alexithymia finds making sense of their own and other people's emotions difficult. As a consequence they tend to focus on external rather than internal causes for behavior.

Multiple research studies have found connections between alexithymia and problem gambling. One in particular found that among problem gamblers, 34% were identified as alexithymic (high degree of alexithymia), versus only 11.1% of non-problem gamblers.

Individuals may want to escape from the emotional toll of losing. They chase losses not only to win the money back, but also to trigger feelings of euphoria. In another study, chasing losses was linked to increased activity and incentive motivation in the cortical areas. 

In many cases, an individual doesn’t understand when to stop gambling. This is as a common phenomenon known as "loss aversion," which occurs when a problem gambler feels the pain of losses more than average players. This cognitive bias leads to impulsivity and irrational decision-making. They tend to incessantly focus on small losses which motivates achieving bigger wins, instead of just "cutting losses" and moving on. 

How to prevent yourself from chasing losses

One way to prevent yourself from chasing losses is to set limits with gambling. For example, deciding on a "betting budget" - known as a a "bankroll" - that should viewed similarly to a cost of entertainment, not an investment in future profit. It also must be an amount that you are comfortable losing entirely, with no impact on your financial wellbeing.

Most sportsbook apps nowadays allow you to set time and money limits to help you stay in control and maintain balance. There are also stop-gambling apps that can help you cut back on or quit gambling altogether. 

Recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal can also be helpful in determining the root causes of your potential gambling problem. Note the times and days when you gamble, and how you feel during those times. What led you to this point? Was it stress, anxiety, boredom, or loneliness causing you to bet? 

You can also seek support for your gambling addiction. Speak with a trusted friend or loved one, or consider professional treatment or therapy. 

Most people gamble to avoid their negative feelings. To prevent chasing losses, you should find a healthy outlet such as reading, working out, cooking, or stamp collecting. These activities are crucial to maintaining your emotional stability and well-being. 

More importantly, accept the losses and move forward. Losing is a part of gambling. It’s not based on luck. It’s also about developing skills and the odds not being in your favor. 

Gambling addiction treatment & resources

There are many different resources and treatment options available for problem gambling. Determining the best route for gambling addiction depends on a number of factors, including the severity, personal preferences, accessibility and financial considerations.

Birches Health offers a flexible approach through telehealth services, making them a strong contender for those seeking convenient and effective virtual treatment. Their large team of licensed, specially trained clinicians can create custom treatment problems for each individual and help guide them along their journey.

There are some different options for connecting with Birches Health:

You can also just call 833-483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com to speak with the Birches team right away.

Two other options are the National Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous. They offer information, support groups and helplines that connect you with local treatment providers options. The ultimate choice should be based on individual needs and circumstances, so be sure to do your research and assess each option.


Sources:

Loss-Chasing, Alexithymia, and Impulsivity in a Gambling Task: Alexithymia as a Precursor to Loss-Chasing Behavior When Gambling

Knowing when to stop: the brain mechanisms of chasing losses

Compulsive Gambling - Diagnosis & Treatment

Lumley and Roby, 1995

Parker et al., 2005

Toplak et al., 2007

Bonnaire et al., 2009

Ferguson et al., 2009

Mitrovic and Brown, 2009

Chasing losses is an incredibly dangerous behavior in the world of gambling. Loss-chasing occurs when an individual continues to gamble - often with more bets and/or higher wager amounts that usual - in hopes of winning back what was lost previously. A clinician at Birches Health has stated that chasing losses is the most frequent betting behavior he’s seen among individuals with gambling disorder. 

Chasing losses can lead one to spiral out of control and onto a track to addiction. Unfortunately, this cycle can be difficult to break. In this guide, you will learn about the psychology of chasing losses and ways to stop the cycle.  

What is “chasing losses” in sports betting?

Chasing losses can happen in any type of gambling, including sports betting. It occurs when an individual bets more to try to recoup losses. They will at times convince themselves they are on the verge of a winning streak or "due" for a win.

Loss-chasing can alter one’s reality, as individuals can feel certain that they will win next bet(s). This can be dangerous because it can lead to spiraling into continuous problematic behaviors and potentially eventual Gambling Disorder.

Why do people chase losses when betting? 

People can chase losses because they feel close to or due for a win or winning streak. They may truly believe inside that they will win, even if the odds are naturally stacked against them in the game. Many bettors feel that they have "around a 50% chance" of winning (it's always less than that in reality) in many games, so if they have lost many times in a row, they can rationalize continuing to bet by thinking things like, "I can't possibly continue to lose again and again… I have to win eventually!"

Chasing losses can stem from a number of problems, such as impulsivity, hasty decisions or impaired inhibitions, especially if drugs or alcohol are involved. The more losses a gambler has, the more desperate they may feel to win that money back. Some then place larger or more bets to chase those losses. 

The psychology behind chasing losses 

Alexithymia is a personality trait associated with poor emotional processing that has been shown to correlate with chasing losses in gambling. Essentially, a person high in alexithymia finds making sense of their own and other people's emotions difficult. As a consequence they tend to focus on external rather than internal causes for behavior.

Multiple research studies have found connections between alexithymia and problem gambling. One in particular found that among problem gamblers, 34% were identified as alexithymic (high degree of alexithymia), versus only 11.1% of non-problem gamblers.

Individuals may want to escape from the emotional toll of losing. They chase losses not only to win the money back, but also to trigger feelings of euphoria. In another study, chasing losses was linked to increased activity and incentive motivation in the cortical areas. 

In many cases, an individual doesn’t understand when to stop gambling. This is as a common phenomenon known as "loss aversion," which occurs when a problem gambler feels the pain of losses more than average players. This cognitive bias leads to impulsivity and irrational decision-making. They tend to incessantly focus on small losses which motivates achieving bigger wins, instead of just "cutting losses" and moving on. 

How to prevent yourself from chasing losses

One way to prevent yourself from chasing losses is to set limits with gambling. For example, deciding on a "betting budget" - known as a a "bankroll" - that should viewed similarly to a cost of entertainment, not an investment in future profit. It also must be an amount that you are comfortable losing entirely, with no impact on your financial wellbeing.

Most sportsbook apps nowadays allow you to set time and money limits to help you stay in control and maintain balance. There are also stop-gambling apps that can help you cut back on or quit gambling altogether. 

Recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal can also be helpful in determining the root causes of your potential gambling problem. Note the times and days when you gamble, and how you feel during those times. What led you to this point? Was it stress, anxiety, boredom, or loneliness causing you to bet? 

You can also seek support for your gambling addiction. Speak with a trusted friend or loved one, or consider professional treatment or therapy. 

Most people gamble to avoid their negative feelings. To prevent chasing losses, you should find a healthy outlet such as reading, working out, cooking, or stamp collecting. These activities are crucial to maintaining your emotional stability and well-being. 

More importantly, accept the losses and move forward. Losing is a part of gambling. It’s not based on luck. It’s also about developing skills and the odds not being in your favor. 

Gambling addiction treatment & resources

There are many different resources and treatment options available for problem gambling. Determining the best route for gambling addiction depends on a number of factors, including the severity, personal preferences, accessibility and financial considerations.

Birches Health offers a flexible approach through telehealth services, making them a strong contender for those seeking convenient and effective virtual treatment. Their large team of licensed, specially trained clinicians can create custom treatment problems for each individual and help guide them along their journey.

There are some different options for connecting with Birches Health:

You can also just call 833-483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com to speak with the Birches team right away.

Two other options are the National Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous. They offer information, support groups and helplines that connect you with local treatment providers options. The ultimate choice should be based on individual needs and circumstances, so be sure to do your research and assess each option.


Sources:

Loss-Chasing, Alexithymia, and Impulsivity in a Gambling Task: Alexithymia as a Precursor to Loss-Chasing Behavior When Gambling

Knowing when to stop: the brain mechanisms of chasing losses

Compulsive Gambling - Diagnosis & Treatment

Lumley and Roby, 1995

Parker et al., 2005

Toplak et al., 2007

Bonnaire et al., 2009

Ferguson et al., 2009

Mitrovic and Brown, 2009

Chasing losses is an incredibly dangerous behavior in the world of gambling. Loss-chasing occurs when an individual continues to gamble - often with more bets and/or higher wager amounts that usual - in hopes of winning back what was lost previously. A clinician at Birches Health has stated that chasing losses is the most frequent betting behavior he’s seen among individuals with gambling disorder. 

Chasing losses can lead one to spiral out of control and onto a track to addiction. Unfortunately, this cycle can be difficult to break. In this guide, you will learn about the psychology of chasing losses and ways to stop the cycle.  

What is “chasing losses” in sports betting?

Chasing losses can happen in any type of gambling, including sports betting. It occurs when an individual bets more to try to recoup losses. They will at times convince themselves they are on the verge of a winning streak or "due" for a win.

Loss-chasing can alter one’s reality, as individuals can feel certain that they will win next bet(s). This can be dangerous because it can lead to spiraling into continuous problematic behaviors and potentially eventual Gambling Disorder.

Why do people chase losses when betting? 

People can chase losses because they feel close to or due for a win or winning streak. They may truly believe inside that they will win, even if the odds are naturally stacked against them in the game. Many bettors feel that they have "around a 50% chance" of winning (it's always less than that in reality) in many games, so if they have lost many times in a row, they can rationalize continuing to bet by thinking things like, "I can't possibly continue to lose again and again… I have to win eventually!"

Chasing losses can stem from a number of problems, such as impulsivity, hasty decisions or impaired inhibitions, especially if drugs or alcohol are involved. The more losses a gambler has, the more desperate they may feel to win that money back. Some then place larger or more bets to chase those losses. 

The psychology behind chasing losses 

Alexithymia is a personality trait associated with poor emotional processing that has been shown to correlate with chasing losses in gambling. Essentially, a person high in alexithymia finds making sense of their own and other people's emotions difficult. As a consequence they tend to focus on external rather than internal causes for behavior.

Multiple research studies have found connections between alexithymia and problem gambling. One in particular found that among problem gamblers, 34% were identified as alexithymic (high degree of alexithymia), versus only 11.1% of non-problem gamblers.

Individuals may want to escape from the emotional toll of losing. They chase losses not only to win the money back, but also to trigger feelings of euphoria. In another study, chasing losses was linked to increased activity and incentive motivation in the cortical areas. 

In many cases, an individual doesn’t understand when to stop gambling. This is as a common phenomenon known as "loss aversion," which occurs when a problem gambler feels the pain of losses more than average players. This cognitive bias leads to impulsivity and irrational decision-making. They tend to incessantly focus on small losses which motivates achieving bigger wins, instead of just "cutting losses" and moving on. 

How to prevent yourself from chasing losses

One way to prevent yourself from chasing losses is to set limits with gambling. For example, deciding on a "betting budget" - known as a a "bankroll" - that should viewed similarly to a cost of entertainment, not an investment in future profit. It also must be an amount that you are comfortable losing entirely, with no impact on your financial wellbeing.

Most sportsbook apps nowadays allow you to set time and money limits to help you stay in control and maintain balance. There are also stop-gambling apps that can help you cut back on or quit gambling altogether. 

Recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal can also be helpful in determining the root causes of your potential gambling problem. Note the times and days when you gamble, and how you feel during those times. What led you to this point? Was it stress, anxiety, boredom, or loneliness causing you to bet? 

You can also seek support for your gambling addiction. Speak with a trusted friend or loved one, or consider professional treatment or therapy. 

Most people gamble to avoid their negative feelings. To prevent chasing losses, you should find a healthy outlet such as reading, working out, cooking, or stamp collecting. These activities are crucial to maintaining your emotional stability and well-being. 

More importantly, accept the losses and move forward. Losing is a part of gambling. It’s not based on luck. It’s also about developing skills and the odds not being in your favor. 

Gambling addiction treatment & resources

There are many different resources and treatment options available for problem gambling. Determining the best route for gambling addiction depends on a number of factors, including the severity, personal preferences, accessibility and financial considerations.

Birches Health offers a flexible approach through telehealth services, making them a strong contender for those seeking convenient and effective virtual treatment. Their large team of licensed, specially trained clinicians can create custom treatment problems for each individual and help guide them along their journey.

There are some different options for connecting with Birches Health:

You can also just call 833-483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com to speak with the Birches team right away.

Two other options are the National Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous. They offer information, support groups and helplines that connect you with local treatment providers options. The ultimate choice should be based on individual needs and circumstances, so be sure to do your research and assess each option.


Sources:

Loss-Chasing, Alexithymia, and Impulsivity in a Gambling Task: Alexithymia as a Precursor to Loss-Chasing Behavior When Gambling

Knowing when to stop: the brain mechanisms of chasing losses

Compulsive Gambling - Diagnosis & Treatment

Lumley and Roby, 1995

Parker et al., 2005

Toplak et al., 2007

Bonnaire et al., 2009

Ferguson et al., 2009

Mitrovic and Brown, 2009