Problem gambling: Slot Machines & crack cocaine

Claim: “Slot machines are hypnotizing.”

The Reel Story: Slot machines are known to be the crack cocaine of problem gambling. Many studies have been made on the topic of gambling and people’s behaviour and many of these studies show that slot machines can have an addictive effect on people.

There are different theories as to why. Here are some of them:

  • “The slot machine graphics and colours are very compelling and stimulating to the eye.”
  • “The slot machine music is stimulating, repetitive and seductive and has a subliminal suggestion.”
  • “The rush of the bonus rounds can encourage continued play.”
  • “The high speed keeps the adrenalin pumping.”
  • “Playing the slot machine is very repetitive.”

The Reel Story will not speculate in whether this is true or not, but we will provide you with some tips on how you can avoid losing track in front of the slot machine:

  • Don’t constantly stare straight into the screen, keep your eyes moving.
  • Most computers show the time at the bottom right of the screen. Make it a habit to check it regularly so you don’t lose track of time. If you go to a land based casino, bring a watch.
  • Take breaks and give yourself a time limit.
  • Rest before you start to play.
  • Socialize. If you’re online, chat to your friends in between some of the spins or read a newspaper. If you’re in a land based casino, bring a friend to talk to or make conversation with the person sitting on the machine next to you.

Heywood Broun says: “The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice is so pleasurable, that I assume it must be evil.”

How to avoid online gambling problems and where to fix them. 

Question: How can you keep your gambling at a responsible level?

Asked by: Ideally, everyone that gambles on slot machines.

The Reel Story: Most experts agree that problem gambling is more connected to slot machines than any other type of gambling. However, slot machine gambling can be kept at a reasonably harmless and responsible level if some easy guidelines are kept.

  • Know how the game works and what the odds are before you play.
  • Use your pocket money to gamble with, not the budget for necessities.
  • Set a budget and stick with this budget.
  • Be aware that the risk of making poor decisions increase when you are not happy.
  • Do not borrow money to play.
  • Do not gamble to chase and win back losses.
  • Don’t get caught up in the game, stick to these guidelines for breaks and time limits.

If you suspect you might be having problems, ask yourself these 20 questions provided by Gamblers Anonymous, which is one of the organizations that help problem gamblers.

Several organizations offer help in this way, and should you want to talk to someone we recommend that you first (Step 1) look up the names of several treatment centers in the phone book or online or get referrals from your physician or therapist.

Step 2 is to call each of the centers you find and schedule an appointment with them. Step 3 is to visit each center and decide where is best for you.