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House Money Effect


The House Money Effect is a cognitive bias in finance where investors or traders are more willing to take on higher risks and make riskier investments when they are utilizing profits earned from previous trades, considering it as ‘free’ or ‘house’ money. Essentially, they perceive it as playing with the house’s money, likening it to gambling. This often leads to riskier decision-making and potentially greater losses.


The phonetics of “House Money Effect” is /haʊs mʌni ɪˈfɛkt/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Altered Risk Perception: The House Money Effect refers to the tendency of people to take more risks when they are investing with perceived ‘free money’ or profits from previous investments. This phenomenon suggests that people view this ‘house money’ as less valuable or significant as their own, hard-earned money, leading to increased risk-taking behavior.
  2. Behavioral Finance: This concept is a part of behavioral finance, which examines the psychological biases and tendencies that influence financial decision-making processes. The House Money Effect is a cognitive bias, revealing the irrational behaviors people often demonstrate when dealing with money, particularly regarding investment and gambling activities.
  3. Investment Implications: From an investment perspective, the House Money Effect can lead to poor decision-making and potential financial loss. An investor may, through increased risk-taking, potentially risk all of their gains and accrued profits. Recognizing this bias can guide investors to make mindful and rational investment decisions.


The House Money Effect is an important concept in business and finance because it refers to the tendency for investors to take on greater risk when reinvesting gains or profits from the sale of an asset. This phenomenon is key to understanding investor behavior and decision-making, particularly under conditions of uncertainty and market volatility. It suggests that people are more inclined to invest aggressively and take higher financial risks when they are playing with what they perceive to be house money – their winnings, not their initial investment. Recognizing the house money effect can help investors guard against irrational or overly risky decisions. This knowledge can also inform the development of investment strategies and behavioral finance models.


The House Money Effect is a psychological phenomena predominantly used in the fields of behavioral economics and corporate finance. This concept, as observed in various financial decision-making situations, largely influences how individuals perceive and manage wealth. Essentially, it’s used to explain the cognitive bias that occurs when individuals, after securing some gains or profits, tend to become more open to taking risks with the ‘house money’ – a term used for subsequent profits.The purpose of the House Money Effect is to interpret the human tendency of treating money they have earned and money they have won differently. It predominantly influences risk-taking behavior in gambling, investment and business scenarios. Once individuals have a profit, they are inclined to be more experimental with this, since the feeling of loss is dissipated. They categorize their capital into different mental accounts, and give themselves the mental license to take bigger risks, as they view this money as dispensable. This inclination to take larger risks with earned profits can significantly impact decision-making in everyday financial matters, investment strategies, or corporate budgeting and funding parameters.


1. Casinos: The most common example of the “house money effect” is in a casino where a gambler might start playing games with their own funds. However, once they win, they often feel freer to take more risks with their winnings because they consider it as “house money.” They may be more likely to partake in games with higher stakes, reasoning they’re not technically losing anything since those winnings felt like a bonus.2. Stock Market: An investor has a stock portfolio where one of their investments has done exceptionally well. They may then decide to take more risky bets in the market, buying stocks of start-ups or volatile sectors. The thought process here is that since they are playing with their gains rather than their initial capital, their risk preference has increased.3. Real Estate Investment: Suppose someone purchases a property and after some time, the value of the property increases significantly, providing them with a substantial profit. They might then feel more comfortable investing in other properties or renovation projects they may have considered too risky before, assuming that this new investment is effectively ‘free’ as it’s coming from the ‘house money’ rather than their initial investment.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the House Money Effect in finance and business?

The House Money Effect is a theory used in finance and economics that illustrates a tendency of individuals to take on higher risks when using free money, which is money seen as dispensable such as winnings or unexpected gains.

How does the House Money Effect impact decision-making?

It impacts decision-making by making individuals more inclined to risk more than they would usually be willing to. They are more likely to make risky investments, bets, and financial decisions with the excess or house money they have.

Does the House Money Effect influence investor behavior?

Yes, the House Money Effect significantly influences investor behavior. Investors could be more likely to invest in higher-risk portfolios or stocks when they are investing money that they have gained as opposed to their initial capital.

What is an example of the House Money Effect?

A classic example can be found in casinos. When gamblers win some money, they often feel that the money they win is house money, leading them to make riskier bets than if they were playing with the money they brought to the casino.

How does the House Money Effect relate to loss aversion?

While loss aversion refers to people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains, the House Money Effect shows that people are more willing to take risks when the money they are using is seen as free or a winning , hence reducing the sense of potential loss.

Can the House Money Effect influence business decisions?

Yes, it can influence business decisions, as companies might decide to take more risks or undertake ambitious projects when using a surplus or unexpected money. However, it’s important to note that these decisions should be made with the potential risk and reward in mind, not just because the money is seen as extra.

Related Finance Terms

  • Behavioral Finance: A field of finance that proposes psychology-based theories to explain stock market anomalies such as severe rises or falls in stock price.
  • Cognitive Bias: Systematic errors in thinking that affect the decisions and judgments that people make. The house money effect is a type of cognitive bias.
  • Risk Tolerance: The degree of variability in investment returns that an individual is willing to withstand in their financial planning.
  • Prospect Theory: A behavioral economic theory that describes the way people choose between probabilistic alternatives that involve risk.
  • Windfall Gains: Any type of exceptional gain in earnings, often associated with house money effect since people are more likely to gamble with money that they perceive as a windfall.

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