How Casinos & Slot Machines Are Designed to Facilitate Gambling Addiction

Sideroad slot machine, photo by Skip the Filler / CC BY-NC-ND

Gamblers, and more specifically slot machine gamblers, get addicted because they crave to be in the “zone” – the feeling players describe when they’re completely absorbed in a game, claims this podcast’s guest – Natasha Dow Schüll, a cultural anthropologist at New York University. They don’t really care about winning; rather they want to escape the world and become subsumed in their game.
Casinos also facilitate this addiction by designing the most optimal gambling experience which keeps gamblers playing…and playing…and playing. This ranges from the perambulant layout of the casinos themselves to the ergonomic design of the slot machine chairs, to the games’ false wins that create an illusion of winning. And casinos are now taking advantage of big data systems which track users’ gambling preferences to incentivize players to stay in their chairs as long as possible.
Natasha Dow Schüll is the author of “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas”.

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Is addiction to drugs, like ice or heroin, a disease of the brain? Neuroscientists can actually see how drug use alters the brain. Drug users, therefore, should not be blamed for their addiction: they are not weak, or bad, or morally flawed. It follows their condition should be medicalized and treated by clinicians. This, so called, ‘brain disease model’ of addiction is now being seriously questioned. Paul Barclay talks to some of dissenters.

Big Ideas – ABC Radio | 29th February 2016