Seel, Christian; Strack, Philipp (März 2012): Gambling in Contests. SFB/TR 15 Discussion Paper No. 375




This paper presents a strategic model of risk-taking behavior in contests. Formally, we analyze an n-player winner-take-all contest in which each player decides when to stop a privately observed Brownian Motion with drift. A player whose process reaches zero has to stop. The player with the highest stopping point wins. Contrary to the explicit cost for a higher stopping time in a war of attrition, here, higher stopping times are riskier, because players can go bankrupt. We derive a closed-form solution of the unique Nash equilibrium outcome of the game. In equilibrium, the trade-off between risk and reward causes a non-monotonicity: highest expected losses occur if the process decreases only slightly in expectation.