WORCESTER, Mass. - An estimated $1.5 billion is in play after no one won the Powerball jackpot Wednesday night, and while excitement builds for the chance of winning big money, so do the risks for people susceptible to gambling addiction.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor of biology and biotechnology Ben Nephew said gambling addition affects the brain. He researches the neurobehavioral mechanisms of mental illness and how to develop effective interventions.
"Potential reward of winning money, whether it is a scratch off ticket or a billion dollars lottery, is very rewarding, so it encourages you to keep buying tickets, possibly even if you can't afford it," Nephew said. "It's kind of weaponizing and taking advantage of these natural behavior tendencies in humans to pursue behaviors that are rewarding."
The next Powerball drawing is Saturday. It's close to the all-time Powerball record of $1.86 billion won in 2016. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million.
People struggling with gambling addiction can call the Massachusetts Problem Gambling Helpline at (800) 327-5050.