Gambling is one of many addictions that plague our society and individuals within it. Like most addictions, compulsive gambling consumes and destroys lives. It is one of the more dangerous addictions because it is so accessible. It is promoted and perpetuated by the government and casinos across the country. Around 1-3% of Americans suffer from compulsive gambling and the negative consequences vary from person to person. For many compulsive gamblers, betting isn’t as much about money as it is about the excitement. Sustaining the thrill that gambling provides usually involves taking increasingly bigger risks and placing larger bets. Gambling addiction researchers propose that our brains have not been evolved to properly make decisions in todays society especially gambling decisions and therefore we consistently make errors in judgment, this is amplified in gambling addicts who cannot override their impulses to gamble and cannot properly make decisions that mediate risk and reward. Neuroimaging studies suggest similarities between behavioral and substance addictions. Gambling addiction has extremely similar effects in the brain as a drug addiction would. Here is a great quote from Dr. Alan Leshner, a prominent addiction researcher, applicable to any addiction, “Understanding that addiction is, at its core, a consequence of fundamental changes in brain function means that a major goal of treatment must be either to reverse or to compensate for those brain changes”. Gambling is a deadly combination of reinforcement. A near miss has the same kind of conditioning effect on behavior as a success. A near miss could produce some of the excitement of a win, i.e., secondary reinforcement. Therefore, the player is not constantly losing but constantly nearly winning. Failing to fulfill a goal (e.g., not winning on a slot machine) produces frustration, which energizes ongoing behavior. Subsequent wins then reinforce behavior. The frustration produced by nearly winning would induce a form of cognitive regret. The elimination of regret can be achieved by playing again, and this in turn encourages future play. The mechanisms that drive compulsive gambling are very powerful and can change one’s brain chemistry for a very long time. For more information on gambling and neuroscience start with this article: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/30/18/6180.full.pdf+html.