Fishing and gambling


Sea trouts caught near Galterö island, the Gothenburg archipelago

The summer has been wonderful here on the Swedish west coast. I have spent much time at sea, boating and fishing. The photo shows two seatrouts that I caught.

Fishing and gambling have similarities, especially if you consider bait casting (spinning) in relation to repetitive forms of gambling, such as slot machines. Some of the similarities are the following.

  • You repeat the same maneuver again and again, in the hope of getting something of value.
  • The activity is relaxing and exciting at the same time.
  • You easily forget time and fish/gamble longer than you intended.
  • You sometimes get “near wins” that reinforce behavior (one reel symbol slightly out of place for a jackpot; bites and nibbles of fish that does not get hooked).
  • Success may be a mixture of skill and chance, and it is difficult to tell the two apart (was my choice of bait successful or was it just luck that I caught a big fish?).
  • The few big successes that occur are very memorable while all the times when nothing is caught/won are easily forgotten.
  • Magical rituals are common (wearing a “lucky” cap, spitting on the lure, etcetera).

It is not surprising that some people who wish to stop gambling excessively find sport fishing to be a good substitution leisure activity. When fishing, they only risk losing time, not money (although sport fishing gear may cost a bit and fishermen may get the idea that better gear would make fishing more successful).

There are people, however, who have problems controlling the extent of their sport fishing and who perceive it as a kind of addiction. For example, take a look at this discussion forum and read this sad story about excessive fishing.

Now summer is over and I might get a few more fishing days before it is time to lay up the boat for the winter. I will work with various assignments relating to gambling research and write academic articles.


  1. When one game isn’t cutting it, you try a new one. Then a new table. Then a new casino. These represent holes, lures, and rivers.

    • Jim on January 27, 2024 at 3:56 am
    • Reply

    When I do occasionally play the “one arm bandits”, I am fully aware that the games are rigged against the player and a win today will not recoup past losses or give reason to believe in future wins.
    Fishing is not like that. Every fishing outing is a win because a fish on the line is a gift, and being in tune with nature is the reward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.