Swoopo is Internet Gambling

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NYTimes: Paying a Price for the Thrill of the Hunt

If a company sells chances to win a prize, taking in far more revenue than the value of the prize, how is that different from a casino?

I think I'm missing the gambling gene. Slot machines just seem like a really bad video game; blackjack doesn't excite me. To me, poker with friends is just a way of paying for the socializing (er, I don't mean that in a bad way - going out to the movies or dinner costs money too and it's ok - as long as you're not doing it as a way of leveling your income). Buying lottery tickets isn't any more fun for me than taking out the recycling. I'm as likely to find money in either set of scraps of paper. I'm not against gambling in principle, it just doesn't hold any thrill for me.

But I do object to the advertising, any misdirection away from the numbers, which (usually hamfistedly) prey on human nature. I recently finished Stumbling on Happiness - which I thought might be a kind of scientific self-help, but was actually a lot closer to a Steven Pinker -ish entertaining survey of psychological studies. One point I remember is that people prefer (and are much better at) predicting good outcomes from actions they take (or conversely, when people imagine bad scenarios, it's often in trying to find a course of action to avoid the bad outcome). If I buy a stock and it goes up, I feel pretty good - if it goes down I feel pretty bad. But I don't really care too much about the ones I didn't buy that go up; and I really should be more worried about not selling the bad ones that are going to go down. Lotteries and gambling prey on the same flaw in human nature - if you don't buy you can't win - and if you do buy , wouldn't it be awesome if you did win? Concentrate only on the good outcomes of the actions you take - and whatever you do, do something to avoid the bad outcome (not winning!) What's not obvious is that the best outcome comes from ... doing nothing at all.

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This page contains a single entry by Doug Treder published on November 15, 2009 12:25 PM.

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