Know How Casinos Trick You Into Playing Poker Machines

Know How Casinos Trick You Into Playing Poker Machines

If you’re staying at a hotel or event near a casino, you might just “dabble”. Even if you don’t usually gamble, the bells and whistles of a poker machine might draw you in — and that’s where casinos make their money.

Photo by Travis Isaacs

Vox interviewed industry experts on why poker machines are so addictive. While we intend to just spend a few minutes there, we often spend more time than we realise:

The gambling industry has realised that the biggest profits come from getting people to sit at slot machines and play for hours and hours on end. (Schüll says the industry refers to this as the “Costco model” of gambling.) As such, slot machines are designed to maximise “time on device.”

Computerised slots have made this all possible. Again, in the old days, you pulled the lever and either won or you lost — and when people lost, they’d walk away.

Today’s multi-line slot machines are far more elaborate. Instead of a single line, a player can bet on up to 200 lines at a time on the video screen — up, down, sideways, diagonal — each with a chance of winning. So a person might bet 70 cents and win on 35 of the lines, getting 35 cents back. That feels like a partial win — and captivates your attention.

“The laboratory research on this shows that people experience this in their brains in an identical way as a win,” Schüll says. (And the economics research shows that these multi-line machines are far better at separating players from their money.)

Check out the link for more on why it’s rarely worth playing the pokies. The next time you see one, just walk past it.

How casinos get you to spend more money [Vox]


  • Arcade games where I know I’m going to lose my money after a minute or two can hold my attention and get more of my money than Slot Machines can, I find them so boring that I would rather do nothing than play them.

    If locked in a room with a Slot Machine and a dollar coin I would be trying to take it apart before I put the dollar in it.

  • @dknight1000 I guess Im partially the same. While not addicted to them, I have no interest due to another reason.

    My relationship with my sons mother was ruined due to her gambling addiction. I blame her partially, but I also blame an industry that feeds on people like vampires. Haven’t touched a pokie in years and never will. Don’t see the point. I do get together with mates and we play poker with each other, putting in 50 each now and then, that’s about it.

    • I’ve had problem gamblers in the family too, and the nature of their lies to hide their losses gets more and more outrageous.

      A man knocked on the door and when I sneezed he came in and stole the money from the drawer before I could stop him.

      Yeah that ridiculous statement is an actual line used on us. How bad did it get? Well they where collecting Centerlink in somebody else’s name. Oh and interestingly enough Centerlink blame the victim of identity fraud when it’s family based. I’m not going into detail here, but a Gambling addiction can easily destroy many lives.

      That being said I also as part of a Responsible Service of Gambling Certification I know that Pokies pay out 80% over the life of the machine and that the clubs get roughly 2.5% of the income with 2.5% going back to the Machines maker and 15% going to the Government. And remember this is a billion dollar a year industry on only 2.5%. I admit it’s been awhile and these ratios may have changed. That does not mean if somebody puts in $100 and gets nothing you can put in $10 and get $88 out. The machines are often linked and the guy on the end quietly getting $5 payouts can stop the jackpots falling.

      Only 0.8% of people are problem gamblers, most of them in denial. The problem is, the knock on effect because mummy just dropped her entire weeks wage into the pokies and now she can’t even afford a pack of instant noodles for the kids.

      • Yeah I’ve heard of the payout manipulation. At one stage it was SUPPOSED to be each individual machine was meant to pay out a certain ratio or something, then they figured out how to network and due to wording, they’re considered one ‘big machine’ or something. Dont’cha love technicalities.

        • It is in an industry designed to fleece money from the people who can least afford it, and are also the least likely to understand it.

  • Somehow those fuckers know when it’s your first time on a pokie machine. First time i was pokie machine, put $20 in and got $1200 out, i knew to quit while i was ahead and pocketed the profit. It was nice but i have absolutely no interest in them or no desire to play them when i am at the pub. I do play them every now and again but only put in a small amount and know when to walk away.

    Do not get me wrong, pokie machines are the route of all evil, i see people put in hundreds of dollars at a time and keep going back to cash more, those are the people that need help.

    • Pokies are hands down the most boring machine known to man. The only way I could ever understand why people get addicted to them is if they vomited coins at you the first time you tried it. SO EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL. A friend of mine loves whittling away his $20 two cents at a time; it’s totally beyond me.

    • Oddly something similar happened to me, but in my case I won using a dollar somebody had just given (not loaned) me to play the pokies with.

      So I told them the jackpot was theirs.

      Other than that once, I’ve still never played an actual slot machine. I think I was put off them by playing a simulated one on the Atari 2600 way back when. Incredibly boring.

      People never seem to associate the fact that pokies (and casinos, and gambling in general) makes large profits with the idea that those profits arise from the net losses of the players.

  • I went to crown casino once and got lost in an endless sea of pokie machines. I got out after about twenty minutes of I assume walking around in circles and to this day feel a little sick when I see a pokie machine……

  • I started my gambling at about 4 years old with a 2c lever machine in my grandparents game room, with their spare money haha.

    Ended when they died and we sold the machine. Absolutely no desire to ever play, and mates being drawn into the pokies when we go out for a drink quickly ends with them being ditched.

  • The first of the small handful of times I went in a casino, I hopped on a slot machine once. I put $2 in (from memory), and as I sat there looking for some kind of rules or text intro it was suddenly ‘game over’.

    I knew they were a sham even before hopping on, but I thought I’d hop on one just because. The only good thing at the time was the unlimited free hot drinks from the many vending machines scattered about the place. Last time I went (some years ago) you only get one per night then you gotta play to get credits. Stuff that!

  • I think it definitely depends on the person who spend OWN money…as long as you have enough money to everyday’s life it should be fine and you are not struggle financialy…. I don’t think everyone who spend a few hundreds dollars on the night in a pub or casino with poker machines need help. Let’s all be realistic’s a personal choice. Some people like clubbing and spending money for an alcohol on a weekend’s break. Do they ALL need a help as well ??just because they spent a few hundreds dollars to have some fun on a night out with friends?? Please….

  • There’s no point to be too paranoid. We all should already know that poker machines are not bringing us financial benefits…that is a very sad reality…Poker machines are design to take rather than give:) Money spending is a personal choice of every person who play poker machines…and in my opinion Poker machines can be very dangerous and addictive as well… There’s No doubt it’s good to be careful with FUN like this…And I do not think everyone who spend money on poker machines is addicted or need professional help…It depends if you are struggle or NO. If NO were is the problem? Everyone HAS a right to play…My ADVICE : TRY but not often and with limits and….just for FUN:)Good luck everyone:)

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