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27- Slots are Intentionally Deceptive

Addiction, Crime, and Public Health Damage

27. Slots are electronic loaded dice: a deceptive consumer product specifically designed to deceive and addict.

See leading game design researcher Dr. Kevin Harrigan’s presentation (PPT download) to the NH Gaming Study Commission on the deceptive design and purposefully addictive features of slot machines.

Using “virtual reel mapping,” “unbalanced reels,” near misses, rapid play speed, play in isolation, hypnotic sound, and ergonomics, slot machines are purposefully designed to trick gamblers into consciously and subconsciously thinking that their odds of winning are several times greater than reality and to keep gamblers playing until they have lost all their money.

Dr. Harrigan’s research has compelled the American Gaming Association to admit in a July, 2010 white paper on machine design (page 13) that slots are rigged to display near misses at 6 to 12 times greater than random frequency.

Here is video and written testimony by MIT’s Dr. Natasha Schull before the Massachusetts legislature on the purposefully addictive features of video machine design.

Here is a summary of a 2009 study published in the journal, Neuron, showing the brain science explaining how near-misses promote addiction. Our brains perceive a near miss as equally rewarding as a win.

Dr. Robert Breen, director of the Rhode Island Gambling Treatment Program, explains the greater addictiveness of slot machines: “Frequently, patients reported that they developed [problem gambling] rapidly and severely after beginning involvement with machines. This was true despite that, in many cases, they had gambled regularly on other forms of gambling for many years without problems. However, the addictive qualities of video gambling transcend mere speed and continuity. The use of virtual reel mapping in the design of such devices creates an illusion of near misses and misrepresents the true odds of winning.”

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