In a recent report on a TV news program, it was revealed that there are now over 850,000 land-based slot machines available in 38 states in the US. While the revenue made from these slot machines is used to supplement the states’ budgets, much was made of the fact that adding even more casinos contributes to slot machine addiction. But is that really the case?
According to the former governor of Pennsylvania, people gamble all the time. To suggest that adding more casinos and thus more slot machines adds to gambling addiction is nonsense. He posits that not everyone becomes addicted to slot machines and that most people gamble albeit lotto tickets, horse racing, etc. Why shouldn’t a state look to land-based casinos to acquire much needed revenue given the current state of the economy?
One group interviewed stated that gambling should be outlawed as it does not help the economy but preys on those that cannot afford to gamble in the first place. This group uses the premise that putting money into slot machines doesn’t bolster the economy because the money is not used to buy goods. If one buys this premise, then all forms of gambling would have to be abolished.
In a 15-year study on slot machine addiction, it was determined that the new state of the art slot machines are designed to “put people into a zone.” The zone is a place where all outside influences are ignored and the only focus is on the slot machine. Unlike the old machines that required pulling the lever, the newer slot machines use buttons which cuts down the betting time to every three seconds. In fact, it was even suggested that the newer slot machines that have a myriad of animated features engender a false positive win among addicted players, that is, if a scatter or a wild symbol appear, the player believes he or she is ahead when in fact it is the opposite. This study also showed that when an addicted player won a jackpot, he or she was disappointed because it interrupted the flow of the game.
There are gamblers who are addicted to slot machines just as there are gamblers who are addicted to other forms of betting venues. If that weren’t the case, there wouldn’t be a Gamblers Anonymous in operation. But to suggest that all state of the art slot machines are a contributing factor insinuates that everyone who plays slot machines will become addicted. Studies have shown that there are certain personalities who are prone to addictive behavior, and not just in the gambling arena. It is important to note, however, that the percentage of addicted slot machine players is small.
Gambling is a form of entertainment, regardless of whether one plays at a land-based casino or online. Most people who gamble do so responsibly. The notion that slot machines are the culprit in this addiction scenario is unfair. Addiction is not caused by one game; it is an illness. Many factors contribute to addictive gambling and there are avenues available where a person can receive help and guidance to overcome the underlying problem.