Get new exclusive access to healthcare business reports & breaking news
Casinos are interesting places. It doesn’t matter if you are at a land-based casino or playing at an online casino as they all have similarities. Where most casinos have a variety of table games ranging from blackjack to roulette and baccarat, the majority of floor space or bandwidth is dedicated to slot machines. There is a good reason for that – slots take no skill to learn how to play. This makes slots the perfect casino game for beginners. Slots also translate to big money makers for the casinos, even though they often pay out some very large jackpots. In Las Vegas, as an example, the 39,680 slot machines in operation there generate an average annual gambling revenue of $79,962 making them the greatest revenue generator of all casino games in Vegas. But what draws us to slots instead of other games that take a fair deal of study? It happens to have a lot to do with how our brains react to the circumstances related to pushing the “spin” button.
Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon that makes gamblers disassociate themselves from the knowledge that they will lose money playing games in a casino. It works like this: Slot machines have something called a Return To Player (RTP) rating. It is easy to find as both land-based and online casinos require to have this information accessible. The rating is based on $100 spent gambling and appears as a percentage figure. For example, a slot machine with an RTP of 96% means that a gambler who puts $100 into that slot machine has, at best, the possibility of making back $96 of that amount in winnings. However, larger payouts do happen and that is what fuels the hopes and dreams of players who choose to ignore the fact that the machine they are sitting at is designed to lose them money. Slot machines are designed to generate a profit for the casino. Learn more here about slots at casinos.
Our brains reward us for many different things. It can be something as simple as eating a special treat or doing something that makes us feel good. The neurotransmitter that gets fired into our brains is called dopamine and the chemical messenger, when released, gives us pleasure in the form of euphoria. What does this have to do with slot machines? Well, how slot machines operate triggers waves of euphoria to those players who sit in front of them endlessly. Each time the brain of a slot player gets another shot of dopamine from a jackpot, bonus, free spin, or whatever, the player begins to form a mental connection between slot machines and feeling rather good. The problem here is that eventually, a player will just keep hitting the “spin” button, even while losing, in an attempt to chase after that dopamine rush. By the way, players don’t even know that it’s a chemical reaction taking place inside their brains.
Humans tend to want to have some control in any aspect of their lives. Oddly enough, slot machines provide some form of control. Studies have found that buttons on appliances or any other piece of machinery or apparatus help us to feel in control of something. It impacts our mental health. This is particularly true if pushing one of those buttons produces a visually attractive result. This connects to the desire of gamblers who will continually push the “spin” button on a slot machine. Even if that spin does not win, it will still generate a visual display different from the previous one. The changing colors, the spinning reels, the shapes and symbols that float into and out of view trigger releases of dopamine in the brain. The cycle is simple. Push the button, reels spin, dopamine is released. It becomes an endless feedback loop that gives slot players a high that they don’t understand but becomes something they crave and chase after to feel over and over again.
The memory of winning a jackpot with a lottery ticket varies greater from the same sized win on a slot machine. That is because the sounds made by the slot machine and the graphics, theme, and storyline incorporated within that slot machine are designed to immerse you into the gameplay. The idea behind the specific theme music and color scheme or theme of a particular slot machine is to be more attractive than anything else in the casino. This is also why a jackpot win on a slot is a loud, flashing, pulsating experience. The sound of coins dropping, the blinking lights, sounds of sirens, and anything else that the jackpot triggers in the machine does so to draw attention to the winner which results in a huge shot of dopamine into the brain. It becomes an experience that will burn a vivid memory that can’t be compared by anything else leading up to that jackpot moment. Any thought of slot machines will then trigger a dopamine release.
Slot machines are fun, there is no doubt about that. However, for some players, these machines can be addictive to be around. If you set a limit and play within it, you may be able to keep from falling victim to the appeal of these casino games. When you know what you are getting into and can properly prepare yourself, it is far easier to enjoy some time in front of a slot game and not get hooked. By viewing a trip to a casino as simply a form of entertainment that may cost you a few bucks, that you may win some back, and set limits on spending and time spent at the casino, you can play safely without worry. Slots are designed to attract you and hold your attention. By not allowing that to happen, a trip to the casino can be fun and exciting. That is, once you learn the psychology of slot machines and do whatever is necessary to keep from getting trapped by the mind games that can be triggered through interactive gameplay.