The most addictive games …

Who will score the next goal? Mbappe! You will win 20 euros. Dopamine outbreak. Continue: Which team will benefit from the next corner? Lost! Which defender will take a yellow card? Still lost. The tension is rising, but you know you can handle it. Time flies, bet by bet, and with it your money without you being able to win. The idea that you have lost control is barely in your head: the emotion is too strong and you don’t have time to think about it. “Addiction always results from the encounter between an individual and their own characteristics, the environment in which they evolve and an object, here the game. In this last point, research has identified several mechanisms that make some games more addictive than others ” says Céline Bonnaire, a doctor of psychology who specializes in this type of addiction.

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The first of these mechanisms is called event frequency, or betting cycle. It’s the number of game opportunities in a given period of time: the more frequent they are, the more they hook you. “This speed prevents our rational brain from measuring risk-taking. The faster the decision, the more likely it is to be driven by our emotions, which are often strong in a game situation. That’s why which live betting is potentially dangerous. ” , illustrates the specialist. The second trap mechanism, directly linked to the previous one, is the rate of return to the player: a game that makes you win at regular intervals, even with small sums, will have a more addictive potential. “Previously, Psychological researchers believed that winning a large sum once – and the excitement this induces in the player – could create a breeding ground for the later development of an addiction. But more recent studies have shown that the symbolic value of gain outweighs its arithmetic value. ” , continued Céline Bonnaire. That is, for our brain, a victory of 2 euros can already be encouraging and encourage us to continue the game. When the player wins less than he bets, specialists talk about a loss disguised as profit. Another mechanism: the “almost profit”. It is the slot machine syndrome that lines two symbols of three. “This mechanism makes us believe that we have almost won, when in fact we have lost, and therefore we can start again because we will soon win.” explains the psychologist.

The place is also important: surrounding atmospheres such as bars tend to cut the player off from reality and disinhibit him. But the real change came from the possibility of online betting, which plays a facilitating role: “In this case, you don’t even have to leave home. Gambling and gambling are easily accessible and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The dematerialized part of online payment also plays a role. in the feeling of not playing with “real” money ” , said Céline Bonnaire. As for which games are the most problematic, the figures from the Games Observatory draw a list: in first place are horse racing and sports betting, with 6.2% and 5.9% , respectively, of the so-called excessive bettors. Then there are the poker and casino games, also associated with an increase in risk, with 4% and 3.9% of excessive players, respectively.

The possibility of betting on live actions (number of goals, from which side the corner will be taken, etc.) has multiplied almost infinitely the chances of betting, which then become more frantic and are made under the influence of the emotion.


The good old horse betting of the PMU, which retains its fans, is shaken by the democratization of online sports betting. Sites like Betclic or Winamax, accessible through smartphone apps and driven by intense marketing campaigns, are experiencing dizzying growth, with a turnover multiplied by 12 (from 79 million to 940 million euros) between 2010 and 2020, and a clear acceleration during the Covid crisis. . With the social and health damage at stake: “When betting on the outcome of a match, the player can mature his choice and measure his risk-taking. But the openness to many matches and, above all, the possibility of betting on live actions (number of goals, which corners are taken …) the chances of betting have multiplied almost infinitely, which then become more frantic and are carried out under the influence of emotion, without some users being able to pick them up. analyzed by Céline Bonnaire. “The fact that sports stars, especially football stars, who are among the most appreciated personalities by young people, associate their image with the advertising campaigns of these places. also has a decisive impact on the ‘recruitment’ of new bettor profiles “she adds.


The dematerialized side of online payment also influences the feeling of not playing with “real” money.

The most addictive games



This is the inescapable phenomenon of the decade 2000-2010. “Previously, poker was perceived as a game reserved for privileged people” , said Céline Bonnaire. In fact, unlike many games of chance, poker – and in particular its most popular variant, Texas Hold’em – is not only based on chance, but also on a good dose of expertise: knowledge of probabilities, self-control, etc. One man has radically changed this perception in the eyes of the general public: Chris Moneymaker, and it’s not a pseudonym! In 2003, this anonymous snatched him from the WSOP, the prestigious World Poker Championship held every year in Las Vegas, thanks to an online tournament for the modest initial bet of $ 40 … before to win the supreme title on the nose and beard of the greatest professionals, as well as the ordered amount of $ 2.5 million. This success story has sparked worldwide enthusiasm for poker, especially online, which is still undeniable. “She has created a defining identifying factor for many new players. It’s the ‘why not me?’ Syndrome.” , testified Céline Bonnaire. Unfortunately, the psychologist’s patients did not have the same luck.

>> Read also: What happens to the brain of a gambling addict?


Slot machines, legalized in France in casinos in 1987, are the archetype of addictive gambling: the frequency of gambling is limited only by the player’s ability to enter his coins and activate the lever. In his book Addiction by Design: Gambling Machine in Las Vegas , anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has condensed fifteen years of research into the world of slot machines, which remains one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the United States. . It shows in particular that the gain frequency algorithms as well as the ergonomics of the machines – such as “sound and light” devices – have been gradually refined by the manufacturers to maximize the time spent on the one-arm bandit. For example, researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo (Canada) showed in a study published in 2013 in Journal of Game Studies , that the noises emitted by the machines when the result is shown induce a jubilant effect on the players. Such a well-oiled mechanism that, as Natasha Dow Schüll documents, some fall into a state of near-trance in which everyday worries, social imperatives, and even a certain awareness of the body fade away. “I’ve seen players forget to drink, eat … and sometimes even go to the bathroom.” testified Céline Bonnaire.

The most addictive games


The most addictive games



A small grid to fill, a quick result, this is the beginning of the Rapido lottery, considered until its closure in 2013 as the most addictive game in La Française des jeux. The frequency of the draws (every two minutes), a high probability of winnings (they usually “refund” your 2 euro grid): everything is there to stimulate the reward circuits in your brain. Today, Ràpido has been replaced by Amigo, with the same concept – live draws – but with a supposedly less addictive formula: draws are held every five minutes, and prevention messages are issued. Among the lotteries, the still very popular Loto is behind in terms of addictive potential: “With a raffle every two or three days, many people gamble on their dreams, but many forget to even claim their prize.” pointed out Céline Bonnaire.

Online games, doors open to excess

The law of May 12, 2010 authorizes online gambling through private or foreign operators for certain games: sports betting, horse betting and poker.

At the end of 2019, 13 operators shared 26 licenses. But this opening raises the question: “Although traditional retail games are in decline, the number of players on the Internet is constantly increasing. The studies are very clear: the prevalence rates of gambling problems are significantly higher among online players compared to offline players. “, laments Céline Bonnaire. In addition, the latest survey by the French Observatory on Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) on online gambling, conducted in 2017, shows that 3 out of 10 gamblers participate in betting activities in unregulated places: slot machines , casino games, financial or electronic betting. -sports, etc.

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