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Why Are Slots So Much More Addictive Than Other Gambling Products?

woman playing slot machine losingSlot games are highly synonymous with casinos, both online and offline. Of course, they’re highly popular with players because of how diverse they are in terms of their setups, inbuilt features, themes and so on. But they’re not the only games that these casinos offer to players. In fact, many game lobbies feature a high scope of games today, including roulette, blackjack, video poker, arcade games, virtual sports, live dealer options and more. With all those possibilities on hand to be able to play, it would be common to ask why slot games come across as being much more addictive. Why is it that players are more likely to fall into a problem gambling mindset with these releases than with anything else?

According to research, slot machines do the most damage when it comes to players becoming addicted. And while there are a great number of gamblers who play these games simply for fun, others do become too invested in spinning their reels and end up hooked, leading to problems. And there are even some people who say that modern slot machines are actually designed with the intent to make people into addicts. Of course, if that is the case, then they’re created to try and make people to spend more money on them. Very profitable for the casino!

But we want to know why it is that these games actually are so addictive? How do they make people want to play them more and more when compared against other casino games, like those previously mentioned? Let’s have a look at some studies and details surrounding these games and what is built into them that attracts people to spin their reels.

Video and Sound Effects – An Increase in Dopamine

dopamineIf you’re a fan of playing online slot games, then you will know that all of the releases today feature exciting sound effects, exceptional animations, sometimes have opening introductory videos and more. These help to flesh out the base themes that the slots surround, and at the same time, they offer exciting visuals for you to experience. It’s much more than simply having some basic cards dealt out to you or placing a wager on a number in roulette, for example. Essentially, the games of this nature are much more immersive on the whole.

These additions to slots make people much more enthusiastic over playing them, hoping for another entertaining visual or the ability to access a special bonus round with additional features. It is said that such inclusions lead to a rush of dopamine, which motivates players to have another go. And while there are still enjoyable graphics and the like in blackjack or video poker, they often aren’t as highly advanced as those found in slot machines.

These effects are also incorporated into slot games available in land-based casinos. Therefore, you may still get to experience a similar sort of feeling when playing in a physical establishment, too. The difference is that addiction to slots is more often found in online gamers, and this could have something to do with being able to participate in gambling privately, out of the sight of other people.

The Hypnotic State Induced by Spinning Reels

hypnotised man illustrationOnline slot games are simple to get to grips with. You simply select a preferred bet and then set the reels off spinning. Once those reels are spun though, it’s easy to be slightly mesmerised and almost hypnotised by their motion. Of course, reading this, you’re probably thinking, “what rubbish!”. But there is a psychological explanation for the potentially subconscious hypnotising nature of spinning slot reels. While you may not actually be hypnotised by them, your brain may interpret their spinning motion as a hypnotic like movement.

Some theorists have said that slot machine games can easily trigger something similar to what Buddhists call anatta. The literal meaning of this is that in humans, there is not permanent, underlying substance that can be called the soul. Instead, human beings are made up of a compound of five factors, which constantly change. One of those factors is the flow of stimuli and response to such, and the spinning of the reels of a slot game operate as such a stimulus, with the hypnotic state of your brain being the response. Basically, the flow of the reels make you lose yourself and a certain sense of consciousness.

The work of psychologist B.F. Skinner is able to explain this more. He developed behaviour analysis and worked hypnosis into theories. According to Skinner, it was not uncommon for those being hypnotised to see spirals. When reels on a slot machine spin, they do so akin to spirals, which can enforce a hypnotic state, even in a minimal way. Hypnosis cannot be solely blamed for slot machine addiction, naturally. Yet it can often be a reason for continuing to press that spin button because you’re in a certain sort of trance while playing.

The Interactivity Factor

people playing a bank of slot machines

If there is one thing that we as humans like from life, it is the capability of ensuring certainty or being certain about something. Of course, slot machines can never be considered certain when it comes to the outcome of a spin, as they all have random number generators (RNGs) involved in their makeup. Yet slots do play into our desires to gain as much control as possible. Thanks to the fact that buttons are featured to access and change numerous different things within the games, a greater sense of control can be achieved.

Psychologists have discovered that buttons allow us to feel more like we’re in control, especially when pushing them results in a pre-programmed, visually pleasing outcome. In essence, whenever you press the spin button on a slot machine, be that a physical one or online game, your brain interprets that as taking a little bit more control. That’s a positive feeling. And this then harkens back to the dopamine release, which heightens even more with the visuals previously mentioned.

In this respect, repeated presses of the spin button in a slot game will result in the same thing happening each time. The button makes the reels spin, resulting in that feeling of control and the release of dopamine. Such levels of interactivity make us want to continue taking control with additional spins, doubtless contributing in some way towards players becoming addicted to the slots.

What About the RTP Rates of Slots?

rtpIt has been determined on multiple occasions that the RTP rates of online slot games should be displayed. This percentage dictates how much you can expect to get back from spinning a game’s reels, and the figure is calculated over thousands of spins. Basically, the higher the RTP rate is, the more you can expect to receive back from the chosen slot, on average, over time. Of course, if you only play for 10 spins with £100 on a game with a 97% RTP rate, then you’re not likely to have received £97 back from it within those 10 spins.

The timeframe over which you need to play to get the most out of a slot is never explained from game to game, so you never know how long a slot may continue paying out or indeed providing you with losing rounds. The RNG and RTP rates that are active within a game simply challenge you to keep playing. You want to overcome the rate with a massive payout that will essentially mean that you’ve beaten it, right? Many people tend to play games to try and beat them, whether they’re casino games, board games, video games or whatever. That is the idea behind gaming, right? To win.

Once you manage to secure that massive payout from a slot, it can feel like you’ve beaten it. And that can become quite the rush to try and achieve. Therefore, players keep spinning the reels, going on and on to try and get the better of that theoretical RTP rate. Because the games incorporate RNGs, you never know what the next result will be. And it is this that also makes you think, “oh, go on, just one more spin” – and that may be something that you think several times over without realising it. All of this in your hunt for a big win – and a spiral path straight to addiction.

The Simplicity of Slots

slot reelsWe touched on the simplicity of slot machine games earlier on, but this is one prime reason why they can become heavily addictive. Anyone who visits a casino for the first time can look at the roulette tables, the blackjack options, the poker games, the slot machines and so on, and it would be quite clear what the easiest route to take would be. Table games require a lot more thought and a certain level of skill. Granted, luck also plays into those games, but you can minimise your losses with good card gameplay or simple bets in roulette. You just need to know and understand how they work and how to effectively wager on them.

With slots, this is not something that you really need to become accustomed to during gameplay. It’s simply a case of choosing your bet and then spinning the reels. You wait for an outcome, which will hopefully be a win, and then move onto the next spin. There is nothing that you really need to learn in order to play a slot machine game when you compare it to other casino options.

Therefore, people who finish a day of work and want to spend a bit of time with something entertaining aren’t often looking for games that require much thought to be put into them. Slot machines stand out as being simple options to go for in this respect. And it is this simplicity that can also lead to people building up a gambling problem when spinning their reels.

What Can Be Done Regarding Addiction to Slot Games?

addicted gamblerIt is clear that some locations have already noticed the addiction problems that people could have with slot games. In the Netherlands, for example, official law states that there are limitations in place when it comes to bets being placed on slot machines. The highest permitted stake on them stands at €50, and a person is not allowed to wager more than €150 in total in a single game session. Furthermore, at least three seconds need to pass between the start of one spin and the next one.

The United Kingdom is currently overhauling the laws surrounding gambling in the country, and one of the rumoured alterations to the legislation is reducing the maximum bet that can be placed on slot machines. A similar move was made in relation to land-based fixed odds betting terminals in 2018, with the maximum wagers being reduced to £2 from the previous maximum of £100 per round. And in a similar decision to that made by the Dutch regulatory body, there is also the potential for several seconds to be left between spins being possible on a slot game, too. Whether or not those laws are actually introduced with the publication of the UK white paper on gambling remains to be seen.

What about altering the way that taxes are imposed on slot machines? Given that it is potentially well-known how much more addictive slot games are when compared to other casino options, should these releases be taxed more or restricted more as noted above so as to curb the number of addicted people? Extra taxes could be plunged back into the sector for treatment of problem gambling and addiction. Is it even possible that a certain casino game genre could be taxed more so than others? Well, that would be up to the Government to decide or work out in the end. But it could potentially be a viable route to take.

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