Thursday, October 18, 2007

From Slot Jockey to Slot Junkie!

A couple of days again the Las Vegas Review Journal printed an article I read with both vested interest and much amusement.

The headline screams -

GAMBLING ISSUES: Rise of slot machines decried Group calls for federal action, says states too dependent

WASHINGTON -- Slot machines are becoming increasingly deceptive and addictive and the federal government should investigate and regulate them, an anti-gambling group said Friday.

The first paragraph always gives you the summary of the article, but if you like to read, be my guest and peruse the entire column.

Slot Machines addictive?! Well, stop the presses, and news at eleven! Cigarettes bad for you?! Fast Food unhealthy?!

Who are they trying to kid . . . so the slot manufacturers build a better mousetrap and the casinos beat a path to their door. Is this really news? Still the thought of government regulation, should strike fear in the board at WMS, and IGT.

I could opine about how addictive I think these newfangled slots really are, but I'd much rather PLAY them.

Video reels, bonus rounds, immersion sensory transmissive whatchamacallits, they are still one-armed bandits, plain and simple and they are designed to take your money.

I did learn a lovely little bit of jargon from this article. I didn't know that when I was chasing my losses that I was "playing to extinction." I thought I was "just about even" my favorite euphenism for "broke."

I found this passage especially amusing -

Addicted gamblers are motivated more by a desire to escape than to be entertained, Schull said.
"Winning in fact -- this really struck me during my research -- becomes almost undesirable for these gamblers because what it does is it interrupts the flow of the gambling," Schull said.
"One gambler even told me she hated to win because it meant she had to sit there and wait for the change girls to come and fill the hopper," she said.

Word to Ms. Schull, you might want to talk to a slot player who has actually sat at a slot machine in the last few years. Hoppers are practically obsolete now with TITO (ticket in, ticket out) technology. Every now and again you might get a paper jam and require assistance, but change girls (perhaps she means "slot attendant"?) have gone the way of the dinosaur.

It is also idiotic to assume that just because you have won, you would really cash out. Obviously the gambler who hated to win was not "playing to extinction," at least not on the winning machine.

The article also notes that 90 percent of the addicted gamblers played video poker. I'm not a video poker player, so correct me if I'm wrong, but has video poker really changed that much?

So all and all, the article was filled with bad, old research, but the point it makes hold true. Slot Jockeys can soon become Slot Junkies, and that is just what the house and slot manufacturers are working for.

Should the government step in? Well, considering the financial damage done the average slot jockey, and what that could mean in lost taxes and the rising cost of social services, they probably will. If money is at stake, and of course, that is the heart of the matter, you can be damned sure Uncle Sam will demand his cut.

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