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.