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A Model of Casino Gambling

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  • Nicholas C. Barberis
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    Abstract

    We show that prospect theory offers a rich theory of casino gambling, one that captures several features of actual gambling behavior. First, we demonstrate that, for a wide range of preference parameter values, a prospect theory agent would be willing to gamble in a casino even if the casino only offers bets with no skewness and with zero or negative expected value. Second, we show that the probability weighting embedded in prospect theory leads to a plausible time inconsistency: at the moment he enters a casino, the agent plans to follow one particular gambling strategy; but after he starts playing, he wants to switch to a different strategy. The model therefore predicts heterogeneity in gambling behavior: how a gambler behaves depends on whether he is aware of the time inconsistency; and, if he is aware of it, on whether he can commit in advance to his initial plan of action.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14947.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14947.

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    Date of creation: May 2009
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    Publication status: published as "A Model of Casino Gambling", Management Science 58, 35-51, January 2012 (Special Issue on Behavioral Economics).
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14947

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    1. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1993. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 4369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    3. Conlisk, John, 1993. " The Utility of Gambling," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 255-75, June.
    4. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
    5. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
    6. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
    7. Nicholas Barberis & Wei Xiong, 2009. "What Drives the Disposition Effect? An Analysis of a Long-Standing Preference-Based Explanation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(2), pages 751-784, 04.
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