Something for nothing: A model of gambling behavior

John A. Nyman, John W. Welte, Bryan E. Dowd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Gambling is an ancient economic activity, but despite its universality and importance, no single explanation for the demand for gambles has gained ascendance among economists. This paper suggests that the demand for gambles is based on the ability to obtain "something for nothing." That is, the gain from gambling is not merely additional income, but additional income for which the gambler does not need to work. Thus, to fully understand gambling behavior, it must be placed in a labor supply context. The theory is tested empirically using the Survey of Gambling in the U.S. Support for the theory is found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2492-2504
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Socio-Economics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008


  • Demand for gambles
  • Expected utility theory
  • Gambling
  • Insurance-buying gambler


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