Phillip J. Boucher
WRITER/AUTHOR, SLOT MACHINE ADDICTION AND RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING CONSULTANT
Slot Machine Addiction
Slot Machines are fun to play. All you have to do is visit any casino or gaming establishment and look at all the people sitting in front of the machines. From the hundreds of billions of dollars that are made from slots all over the world, it's quite clear that a lot of people like to play them. But like anything in this world, false beliefs, overindulgence, and possibly personality/genetic traits sometimes cause people to become hooked and fall into the addiction trap. They start to believe that they have to chase good money after bad to recuperate the original money they lost. Many people feel that when they put money into a slot machine, they are making an investment and are expecting a return. Some are even convinced that the machine MUST pay them back, because that's what slot machines do, or so they have read or heard or seen.
This leads some people to spend a lot more money than they originally planned. They start to dip into the rent or mortgage. Then the bills don't get paid. They fell that they need to gamble more to try to get back that money. They make cash advances on their credit cards. They steal from work. All to feed their misplaced belief that, "It' going to hit," which slot machines rarely do.
Slot Machine addiction can cause people to lose their jobs, spouses, and families. Some lose their house and other possessions. Others slip into bankruptcy; slide into depression, and commit suicide. And a few gambling addicts may even end up killing family members and themselves to spare everyone from the shear guilt of shame from their addiction. There are those who commit crimes at work or rob stores to get the money needed to gamble. And of course there are the rare bunch who commit murder simply to get more money to gamble. It is a disease that affects many people in many ways, but always causes a great amount of destruction for everyone involved.
But is gambling addiction a disease, a product of society, or is it an inherent trait, governed by genetics and just plain human drive? Research shows it may a combination of many factors. Offspring of gamblers tend to become gamblers. The high of hitting a jackpot releases chemicals into the brain that cause a type of euphoria that can only be repeated by hitting that jackpot again. It is a need, a desire, and a drive. Yet all of these causes combined do not drive problem gamblers as much as the myths, misconceptions, and urban legends about slots do.
How a Person Becomes Addicted to Slot Machines
It seems rather odd that somebody could become addicted to a simple machine. However, the fact is that many people can and do become slot machine gambling addicts. Addiction of any kind is classified as a disease and it has been found that the high from gambling addiction is triggered by a part of the brain that provides a chemical rush of pleasure and satisfaction. This produces the utopia that some gambling addicts experience when they hit a jackpot. Now couple that with all the slot myths, misconceptions, and urban legends that people read about, hear on the radio or from other players, watch on TV, or view in those videos you can order, and you have a very explosive, aggressive, and angry person on your hands.
Essentially, a slot addict believes that the machine is "set" to pay at a particular time, interval, or other such parameter. The money they are putting into the machine is an investment. The casino is taunting them, challenging them to hit the jackpot. So they play. And play. And play more. They tend to spend much more money on hitting the jackpot than they could ever win back by hitting two or three jackpots. They become frustrated because they are not seeing "7's" or other winning combinations. They start to believe that there is something wrong with the machine. They get more aggressive, more determined to beat the machine, to beat the casino. The myths, misconceptions, and urban legends tell them that this is so. They keep pumping the money in. They get infuriated. They may even get to the point of violence. If they don't win, they claim the casino is ripping them off and the machine is fixed so it won't hit. They demand that the machine be checked out, to verify it is working properly. When told it is, they don't believe it and claim the casino is just trying to get out of paying anything. Some even demand their money back. If they do hit, they are in ecstasy, they've beaten the evil casino and its evil machines. They complained so therefore the casino made them win to keep them quiet. They get their money. And then they go right back into the whole process again. It really is sad to watch this happen.
How to Spot a Slot Machine Gambling Addict
- spend two, three, or more times the amount of money to win the jackpot than what the jackpot is worth? For instance, they may spend $3000 to win a $1000 jackpot, or $100,000 to win a $5,000 jackpot
- still seem miserable and unsatisfied when they hit the big one, or a larger payout
- claim that a machine is "their's", and that they have "invested" all their hard earned money into it
- insist that the casino "owes" them for the privilege of them playing the machine and not winning
- find that it is no longer fun to play
- get upset when they don't win
- think the machine is rigged
- think the casino is out to "rip them off"
- get into arguments with other players or casino staff regarding slot machines, pays, etc
- steal money from other family members or work
- hide gambling money from the spouse
- sell drugs, steal, rob, or commit other criminal acts to get money to gamble
If you or someone you know may be addicted to slot machines, I urge you to read, or get them to read, all the information on this site, visit my AllExperts.com site for more answers to more questions, and read my book if you can find it at your local library. Then contact a problem gambling counselling centre and set up an appointment to see a counsellor. You can find one in your local Yellow Pages or search the internet. Your local casino or gaming venue may have a number for you to call as well. The first step in beating slot machine gambling addiction is to understand how they really work. Combing that with traditional counselling may help you or the other person in controlling the addiction, or eliminating it altogether.
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Phillip J. Boucher