Unexpected sports wins, sunny days trigger gambling

New York: An unexpected win by your favourite sports team would not improve your chances of winning the lottery but might increase the likelihood that you will buy a ticket, reveals a new research.

Researchers from New York University in the US found that citywide gambling increased following unrelated and unexpectedly positive events — in this case, unexpected sports wins and unusually sunny days.

“Our study reveals how positive, but incidental unexpected outcomes, like sports and weather, can predict day-to-day lottery gambling in New York City’s eight million residents,” said Ross Otto of New York University in the US.

The study revealed a remarkable malleability to human risk taking: People’s gambling behaviours are shaped by unexpected, but incidental outcomes in their environment, the researchers explained, in the study published in the journal Psychological Science.

The researchers obtained from the New York State Gaming Commission data on daily purchases of non-jackpot-based lottery games in the New York city over the entire years of 2011 and 2012.

Using these data, Otto and colleagues calculated a daily expectation of each team’s win probability that served as the prediction for the next day’s sports outcomes.

On each day that a team played, the difference between the predicted outcome and the true outcome provided a measure of how unexpectedly good or bad the actual sports outcome was.

The researchers also used satellite-derived solar irradiance data to measure the amount of sunshine for each day in 2011 and 2012 in the New York metropolitan area.

As with the sports data, the researchers calculated a weighted daily average of sunshine hours that served as the prediction for the next day’s sunshine.

The researchers found that the more unexpected the sports teams’ wins were, the more New York City residents spent on lottery purchases the next day. Similarly, the more unexpected sunshine there was, the more people gambled that day.