An insight into the types of people who bet on sport can be seen in an experiment that looked at whether winning sport betting had a relation to personality traits.
Participants’ psychological profiles were analysed through personality questions, so that their psychological characteristics were consistent with their self-reporting of their betting behaviour.
Participants who had a greater interest in watching sport, or more emotional attachment to a particular team, were likely to be gamblers.
Those who ranked themselves as more conscientious, organised and goal-orientated were also more likely to be involved in sport betting.
There are also lines of research that attempt to explain sport gambling in terms of brain scans.
Indeed, two very similar studies have provided very similar results in this area.
According to the studies, this is associated with the corpus callosum, a pathway that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
The studies also found a stronger correlation between betting activity and increased activity in the right hemisphere of the brain than the left, although it should be noted that the results were only seen in men.
Whether a sport can be considered gambling depends upon the number of participants and the odds.
For example, the odds of being struck by lightning at random is 1 in 11,837 and the odds of getting hit by lightning in the US are approximately 6% each year.
As the vast majority of lightning fatalities are caused by people being struck on high-voltage electrical wires, the odds of lightning striking a person at random must be small.
These are simply the odds of lightning striking a person.
The point being that these odds are very small relative to the statistics of other, more statistically relevant events.
Similarly, the odds of winning a major sporting event, in terms of the number of participants, are very small.
For example, the odds of the US winning the Olympic gold medal in gymnastics is approximately 7–1.
At that odds, only 0.04% of gymnasts will win gold, which again is a very small event.
The odds of a team beating a team of statistically equal odds, is extremely low compared to the statistics of other more statistically relevant events.
Indeed, it is approximately 1000 times less likely for a team to beat a team of statistically equal odds.
Perhaps this is why many gambling organisations like the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, use statistics and probabilities rather than hoping and praying that a team will win a sporting event.
Some argue that the high margin of winning over losing within sports betting is not a problem because gambling is, by definition, a form of risk taking.
This is a valid argument because the financial rewards for betting are high, even though the probabilities of winning may be small.
The rationale behind this argument is that the significant potential gains on the part of sports fans outweigh the risk taking element.