Slot Machines Seduce their Victims, Then …

Slot MachinesThis article was first published in Psychology Today.

Slot machines are often displayed as bright, shiny objects. Similar to video games, they feature creative, trendy themes, bright colors, flashing lights, and a combination of sights and sounds designed to lure potential customers.

Appropriately, Mike J. Dixon et al. (2019), in conducting research into gambling as a form of escape, began by noting the allure of slot machine play as a form of entertainment. Unlike slower games such as lotteries, slot machine payoffs (when they occur) are immediate, often accompanied by attention-grabbing music and high tech animations. In addition, slot machines are by nature unpredictable—due to what the authors refer to as a “variable-ratio reinforcement schedule.”

They focused on players who entered the “slot machine zone,” a state of absorption during which the game dominates their awareness, causing time to pass by without notice, a state many players find extremely pleasurable. Unfortunately for some, however, despite the similarity to the concept of “flow” in positive psychology, slot machine-induced flow often leads to negative consequences — in terms of time management and monetary loss.

Depression and Dark Flow

Dixon et al. describe the phenomenon of …

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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