Why You Lost Your Money Playing Slot Machines

All those bells and whistles made you think you were winning: Study

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 6, 2013 8:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – There's a reason casinos sound the way do, with their endless barrage of dinging slot machines: It's all about taking your money. So say gambling researchers who looked into why slots are so brutally effective in extracting every last coin, reports Pacific Standard. Sorry, conspiracy theorists, the games aren't rigged. The reason is a lot simpler: The machines' sound effects take a cumulative effect on judgment, causing players to overestimate how many times they've won.

To prove it, researchers rounded up about 100 players, hooked up electrodes to their skin, and set them loose. Those playing on games without sound kept calmer and were significantly better at estimating their number of wins—up to 24% better. Consider, too, that most modern machines let players gamble on multiple lines: They might lose on all but one, but the joyous sounds of that lone victory washes away acknowledgment of a net loss. Losses seem like wins, which helps explain why players keep reaching for the lever, writes a researcher in the Journal of Gambling Studies. Meanwhile, Nevada is considering legalizing gambling—on federal elections.

  (Shutterstock)
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