Sexual Arousal and Online Gambling Linked in Men and Women

March 5, 2015 •

A recent study from Cambridge in neuroscience and neuroeconomics has connected how social behaviors such as gambling is linked to our sexuality. Because human brains have pleasure centres, though differently structured for men and women, scientists now believe that of those who gamble, the impulse to gamble is located in the same place sexual pleasure and gratification is located in the brain. And the added development is, that this location is the same in both genders.

This “neuroeconomics” study has revealed that there is a strong link between sex and online gambling. What the study discovered was that taking risks, specifically with money, and sexual arousal affect the same parts of the human brain. There is a stimulation effect that is quite particular to one region of the brain and it lights up under MRI scans. Also men, who were aroused or shown erotic pictures before gambling online, gambled and played with much more risk than those shown frightening pictures of horror, or of snakes, spiders or scorpions and even neutral pictures, before they gambled.

The research claims that this unique pleasure centre in the brain was found to be stimulated by both money and sex both with a similar intensity. The study also found that gambling online or in person in a casino is neurologically equivalent to the stimulation one gets from trading stock on the stock market. The study was conducted with individuals of both genders being surveyed in equal numbers. The results confirmed that both sexes experienced an increase in levels of arousal, and in consequence were more likely to be very bold and risk taking with their betting behaviours. This is directly linked to them being shown explicit images before gambling online. What was also very interesting is that specifically, women had a greater yearning or desire for initiating an intimate relation after winning at some form of gambling, more popularly online. It was reported that better sexual experiences were had after gambling online or in casinos.

The study determined that age was also a factor, that in these cases the younger demographic was more susceptible to stimulating and sexual imagery. And in consequence, risked more than those older participants who were not affected by the images provided by researchers, to the same degree. In Europe, an alternative case study conducted in Holland had similar findings, revealing that regular male online gamblers preferred gambling much more than dating or having sexual relations with the opposite sex. Those regular gamblers were so accustomed to winning money easily, that that pleasure was more satisfying than chasing or being with women. That study involved 18 pathological online gamblers and 20 regular healthy individuals who underwent MRI scans to monitor their brain activity while performing one of the two tasks (gambling or dating).

Finding that sex and gambling are related, psychologists now can explain their similarities. The brain registers thrills experienced by the gamblers as equivalent to the arousal or high felt during sexual intercourse. Since the majority of online gamblers are male, it makes sense that both gambling and sex are about acquiring, (whether it be money or women) which is a primal instinct of the human male. It also coincides with the fact that there is a lot of gambling lingo which contains heavy sexual connotations and vice versa, which socially links the two activities together. This connection could account for the overall growing popularity of online gambling among male youth globally. With the study in perspective, the fact of the matter remains, both gambling and sex have similar emotional effects on a man, and to a lesser extent, on women too.