A man is holding cards while poker chips and a glass of alcohol are on the table A man is holding cards while poker chips and a glass of alcohol are on the table

The Effect of Alcohol on Your Play May Not Be As Positive

September 4, 2020 |

Alcohol and casino games have been a partnership ever since James Bond ordered a vodka Martini while racking up the chips in his favorite baccarat haunts. But not all gamblers are 007, and alcohol can have severe effects for your competency at the blackjack or roulette table. Even during the COVID-19 outbreak, free drinks are handed out to players in casinos across Las Vegas. The longer you play, the more drinks you will be comped.

In studies in the US, it was revealed that most VLT (Video Lottery Terminal) players preferred to drink while gambling. Plus, nearly 80% of casual gamblers without an addiction drank more than average while playing games.

Should you be avoiding the hard stuff if you want to improve your long-term profits? Let’s see if alcohol will be leaving you shaken or stirred on the casino floor.

Consequences of the Alcohol Use During The Play

A young man is sitting on the table with poker chips and holding a glass of whiskey

Alcohol and gambling have been a marriage made in heaven since the first casinos appeared on the Las Vegas Strip. Gambling venues have long provided a safe environment for playing games and drinking at the same time.

And the way the large gambling establishments keep the players coming back is by providing free drinks at the slot machines or tables. Vegas cocktail waitresses earn, on average, $20,170 a year and rely on tips to supplement their income. By targeting the slots and roulette players, waitresses can earn bigger tips and help the casino to maximize profits. The longer players are sat down, drinking, and gambling, the more the casino makes.

Gaming floors have been hit hard during the COVID-19 outbreak. While some are back open, many bars in Las Vegas are still shut, which means more gamblers take on drinks at the tables.

So, why should casinos be happy for gamblers to drink? Short-term effects include mild euphoria and relaxation. Those are perfect for the casual gambler looking for a fun night out gambling on a Saturday night.

Heavier alcohol intake, however, can lead to more serious effects.

These include mood swings, impaired judgment, and increased risk-taking. Just the kinds of things a gambler doesn’t need while trying to win money at the table. Academic studies have been conducted over the years, trying to establish a link between alcohol intake and negative effects on judgment and attention span while gambling. While there is conflicting evidence, many studies conclude that alcohol negatively influences the player’s ability.

Let’s look at five ways alcohol can affect your play during casino games.

1. Loss of Concentration & Attention Span

A tired man is trying to get concentrated during online casino play

At its most basic level, the more you drink, the more you lose:

  • focus while gambling
  • you might become tired and bored
  • making poor decisions during the night.

Lose concentration, and you’ll start to make bad decisions like playing games you don’t understand or have little interest in.

This is particularly true when playing at an online casino. With so many games available, it’s easy to open a slot or table game in your browser and make a bet.

2. Poor Decision-Making

Drinking alcohol can affect your decision-making process, making you take higher risks. In a 2015 experiment, repeated alcohol exposure in rats was found to alter decision-making and increase risky choices.

Playing at an online or land-based casino requires good decision-making. You need to employ:

For example: when playing slot machines, you should choose low-volatility games with high RTPs (Return to Player percentages) and a bonus feature. When playing roulette, the sensible strategy suggests you should play the outside bets like red and black.

3. Increased Stakes & Betting

A man wearing a white sweater is holding a soccer ball and a phone to make a sport bet

With poor decision-making comes poor stake management. You might hit a downswing with big losses. Worse, you may go on a run of wins and develop a sense of invincibility. Your awareness of the random element of casino games completely disappears, and you opt to increase your bets.

Studies have shown that alcohol consumption is associated with bigger average bets and a faster loss of bankroll.

Intoxicated gamblers were also more prone to making impulse bets. Not all studies are conclusive, however. A Norwegian experiment with 184 novice gamblers concluded that alcohol intake had minimal effect on reaction times and loss of funds. However, the study conceded that a similar experiment with serious drinkers and gamblers might have resulted in different conclusions.

4. Higher Losses

In serious cases, higher alcohol intake can lead to higher losses. As players take more risks, play for longer, and make poorer decisions, the losses can rack up.

All casino games have an inherent house edge. It’s the long-term advantage that the casino has over players. Let’s take roulette for example:

  • American Roulette has a house edge of 5.26%, which means you are losing. On average, that means you are losing $5.26 for every $100 you wager.
  • European Roulette has a twice lower house edge of $2,7%. Here you are losing only $2,7% for every $100 you wager.

By drinking more and making poorer decisions, you may end up chasing losses, you will struggle to recoup. In roulette and craps – traditionally the most sociable and exciting games that carry a high house edge – you could end up hitting large downswings.

5. Serious Gambling & Drinking Problems

An old man is drinking beer while playing online casino at home

Links have also been established between problem drinkers and a serious gambling. A study of over 800 college students found that a quarter of gamblers who frequently visited casinos always drank.

The conclusion was that, especially for male casual gamblers, drinking and gambling went hand in hand. But for serious drinkers, increased gambling was also a problem.

In one of the largest studies undertaken in the US, alcoholism was reported as a condition among problem gamblers. Over 73% of gambling addicts also had problems with alcohol.

Reducing Control Over Your Actions

There are proven links between alcohol intake and its effects on gambling patterns. So, how can you combat these effects, especially when playing online?

Social drinking carries few risks, but even casual drinkers can make poor decisions when playing at an online casino at home. The rise of internet casino sites has given players more choice than ever. Regulated gaming sites are now available in dozens of countries. In addition, the positive news is that gambling from home is allowed from the age of 21 in such US states like:

  • New Jersey
  • Michigan
  • Alabama
  • Idaho and many others.

A young man is drinking beer while playing online casino games on his laptopThere is no limit to the amount of alcohol you can drink at home. Accessibility means players at home are at higher risk than gamblers in a local casino. In a home environment, a gambler may avoid being pulled along by the roulette table’s noise and excitement.

However, there is a higher chance that players can get bored. And with online casino deposits being so easy, a ready supply of funds is only a click away.

Luckily, many online casinos promote responsible gambling. You can set deposit and session limits on your gaming. Also, you can request a self-exclusion if you think you may have a problem.

The Impact of Taking Alcohol While Gambling

A glass of alcohol, cards, poker chips and cigarette are on the table

Gamblers have been drinking and playing for centuries. A few drinks can help you relax and soak in the atmosphere in a casino setting in moderation.

But excessive alcohol can lead to:

  • impaired judgment
  • poor decision-making
  • loss of bankroll management.

A few big wins can see players increase their stakes as they build up a feeling of invincibility. Similarly, a few losses can see you chase your losses as you lose control.

While fun, gambling is about making the right decisions. You have to pay attention to the game and make the right bets at the right time.

By drinking too much, you might lose focus and make the wrong moves.

Casinos have a long tradition of offering cheap or free drinks to punters. Complimentary drinks help players gamble for longer, and that means ultimately losing more. And with the advance of online casino games, it’s never been easier to drink and play at home.

Few gamblers are as controlled, or lucky, as James Bond. Leave the vodka Martinis in the drinks cabinet and enjoy your gambling.