Slot Machine Addiction & Casino Addiction Gambling

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Slot machines really do lull gambling addicts into a trance, researchers find

slot machine addiction

The ‘slot machine zone’ is the idea that problem gamblers prefer slot machines
This is because slot machines are fast and allow for a continuous style of play
People experienced with slot machines lose track of time and their surroundings
The researcher say there is potential for slot machines to be designed in a way that promotes more responsible use by disrupting the slot machine zone state

Gamblers who feel like they enter into a ‘trance’ while playing slot machines are more likely to have gambling problems, research has found.

This is called the ‘slot machine zone’ hypothesis – the idea that problem gamblers prefer slot machines because they’re fast and allow continuous play.

This makes the players enter an immersed state where they can escape from feelings of stress, boredom or a low mood.

The research, conducted by the Centre for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia (UBC), found that people who are experienced with slot machines lose track of time and their surroundings when they play.

‘Slot machines are one of the most popular forms of gambling worldwide, but they are also the form most consistently linked to gambling addiction,’ said Spencer Murch, the study’s lead author and a UBC psychology graduate student.

‘By understanding why slot machines are the preferred game for problem gamblers through this research, we have the potential to improve gambling policy and to design slot machines that promote more responsible play,’ he said.

To conduct the study, the researchers recruited two groups of participants.

One was a group of UBC undergraduate students, many of whom has never played on a slot machine.

The other was group of experienced slot machine users.

All participants were instructed to play on a slot machine in the UBC casino lab for 30 minutes.

casino addiction

But the lab slot machine had been modified – it had panels mounted on each side showing moving shapes such as white circles.

Participants were told to press a button whenever they noticed a white circle change into a red square.

After they finished playing, they were asked if they felt like they were in a trance or lost track of time while playing.

The researchers also measured heart rate changes during play.

The researchers found that in both groups, participants who were at higher risk of problem gambling said they felt higher levels of immersion while playing on the slot machine.

In the group of experienced slot players, those at higher risk of problem gambling were more likely to miss a shape change on the side panel of the machine, and also felt they lost track of time and their surroundings.

‘This confirms there is indeed a link between gambling addiction and the so-called slot machine zone,’ said Professor Luke Clark, the study’s senior author and director of the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC.

He said the results support the idea that being immersed in the game leads to paying less attention to the visual world outside of the slot machine.

‘There is potential for slot machines to be designed in a way that promotes more responsible use by disrupting the slot machine zone state,’ said Professor Clark.

‘Since static signs and stickers on slot machines are unlikely to distract immersed players, the messages should be eye-catching and as close as possible to the slots’ reels,’ he said.

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