The Real Reasons for Slot Machine Addiction
by Phillip J. Boucher
When you look at the volume of books and reports that have been published over the years in regard to Slot Machine, also known as Electronic Gaming Machine, problem gambling, you will notice a particular pattern. Research, observation, and counseling of those addicted to EGM's, whether done at a kiosk, in an office, or conducted through a simulated casino environment, are lacking one specific and very important factor; the fact that these studies and counselings are not taking place in an actual gaming environment. It's fine to apply responsible gaming tactics and practices to try to help those addicted to electronic gaming machines, but nature and nurture causes fail to address the fundamental reason for EGM problem gambling; the proliferation of the myths, misconceptions, and urban legends that abound in books, magazines, online, and in television shows and movies.
As a long-time slot machine technician, my observation and discussion of problem gambling with patrons always came back to the fundamental beliefs in EGM myths; the machines are rigged, the government decides who wins, and the industry is simply an authorized "rip off" of the public.
With an approach to try to help these patrons, I told them the absolute truth about EGM's. How they are designed, how they operate, and how they determine outcomes. Through education and understanding I discovered that once a patron was receptive to understanding how EGM's work, they tended to either reduce their problem gambling activities, or were able to eliminate them altogether.
Nature and nurture causes of problem gambling aside, unless a counselor or other responsible gaming advocate deals with a patron right on the gaming floor with the belief in EGM myths and misconceptions, even the best programs and help are not enough to assist most problem gamblers. As I have proven through direct dealings with patrons, and through feedback from my book, "Slot Machines: Fun Machines or Tax Machines", the hardest part is getting the patrons to understand how EGM's really work. After that, traditional methods of treatment become much more effective.
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