Risk of Problem Gambling reduced in Educated Slots Players

A new research study proves that understanding how slot machines work can greatly reduce risk of addiction.


understanding How Slot Machines WorkI’m so sorry, I kept winning, and then suddenly everything was gone…”

Does this admission sound familiar? Does it sound like something a gambling addict might say? It’s a scary statement, indeed, and something that researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, spent a great deal of effort hoping to silence.

It’s no secret that the vast majority of problem gamblers are addicted to slot machines. They offer a fast-paced, entertaining and solitary experience, with the chance to win a substantial amount of money. Many players have admitted to zoning out the rest of the world, causing them to lose track of time and finances.

One of the biggest problem associated with slot machines, according to numerous scientists, is a phenomena known as ‘losses disguised as wins‘ (LDWs). Inexperienced gamblers are especially vulnerable to such games, inclined to believe they are winning when, in fact, they are losing money.

Understanding How Slot Machines Work

Researchers conducted a study on the matter. They started with two groups of inexperienced players. One group was shown a brief video that explained how slot machines with LDWs work. The second group of subjects were shown a different, unrelated video. Then, all subjects were asked to play two different slot machines. One utilized LDWs, the other did not.

The video shown to the first group explained that many of today’s slot machines, especially those endowed with a vast number of paylines or ‘ways to win‘, are able to deliver lots of payouts without the player actually winning. The lights flash, the bells chime, and credits are awarded. But most of the time, the amount of credits won add up to less than the amount bet by the player, resulting in a loss.

Afterwards, each subject was asked to estimate how many times they thought they had won on each machine. What they discovered is that the educated gamblers were able to closely approximate how many times they’d actually won, as opposed to how many time the machine made it look like they’d won. Conversely, the members of the uneducated group believed they’d won a lot more than they actually had on the LDWs. They were better able to approximate their wins on the non-LDW machines.

Delineating The Evidence

President and Research Director Michael Dixon of the Gambling Research Lab at the University of Waterloo, commented on the findings of the study.

“One of the keys to gambling harm prevention is to curtail misperceptions before they become ingrained in the minds of gamblers,” said Dixon. “By exposing these outcomes for what they are, our study shows a way in which we can lead slots gamblers to have a more realistic view of their gambling experiences and possibly prevent problems down the road.”

The lead author of the report, Candice Graydon said, “We found that the video was effective in correcting multiple misperceptions. Players not only remembered their actual number of wins more correctly, but they were also more capable of labelling losses disguised as wins during slot machine play.”

The results are telling, indeed. Grayson believes there’s more data to learn from players who understand how slot machines work. The next goal is to “assess whether shining the light on LDWs will make gamblers stop playing sooner.”

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