In Ontario, problem gamblers account for 60% of slot machine revenue, about $1.8 billion annually. In an effort to determine why slot machine gambling is the most addictive form of gambling in Ontario, our research team is using a variety of techniques including questionnaires and interviews. We also have gamblers play in a casino and in a laboratory where we take psychophysical measures such as heart rate, galvanic skin response (i.e. perspiration), and pupil dilation.
Here are sample issues that interest us:
- Ontario approves multiple versions of the same game with payback percentages varying from 85% to 98%. The different versions look identical to the player. What effect does this have on the player?
- Ontario regulations allow manufacturers to create near misses such as two jackpot symbols on the payline and another just above the payline (Awww shucks, I just missed it!). What effect does this have on the player?
- On the newer-style touch-screen slot machines players can wager on multiple lines, such as 15 or 45 lines. With these multi-line games, on approximately 60% of the “winning” spins the “win” is less than the wager such as wagering $3.75 and “winning” $1.25. This is a loss of $2.50 but the machine celebrates this “win” with winning sounds and winning graphics. As one elderly player said “If I keep on winning, I’m gonna go broke.” What effect do these types of “wins” have on the player?