In a given jurisdiction (State/Province/County) there will be rules about the payout percentage. Anywhere from 90 to 98%. So lets assume 95% percent payout. In the long run, you give me a dollar, I give you back $0.95. Most of the time its zero, sometimes its a bit more than you put in to spin and once in a blue moon its huge. But, on average, you give me a dollar, I give you $0.95.
This is where biology / psychology comes into play. All the games from all the manufactures pay the same (in the long run) in a given state (its the law). The trick is to find the magic reward frequency (think Skinner box from Psych 1000). Occasionally a huge one with not much in between? Lots of little wins and hardly any super huge jackpots? Most of the reward frequencies don't work. The person can escape thinking the game is not fun. There are a few rare evil/magic frequencies that just trap the poor person.
Here is where it gets super evil. When one manufacturer's new game starts to do well in market, other manufacturers will do research (study the content of the reels (the spinning things) from a video capture) and reverse engineer the game's math/reward frequency.
So the same way that AI RNN is a exploring a multidimensional problem space and trying to jump out of local optima to find the true optimal solution. The gambling industry is exploring the dimensions of the mind trying to find the optimal Skinner box to take all your money. They are exploiting a bug in our brains design. We evolved to run around the Savannah and throw things with weird accuracy. We just are not built to defend against it. They should be banned.
I would instead suggest mandating a payout percentage of 100%, i.e. the machines make no profit for the owner. Venues might still buy them as ‘entertainment’ but not as profit centres. Instead they would be a customer attraction cost (purchase price plus electricity) for venues like bars and clubs, just like hiring live entertainment.
Gamblers will still gamble on them, thinking they'll be the lucky ones to get the jackpot (and beat the odds) but there would be far less of them around because they wouldn't be profitable to own in themselves. And there would be no motive to make them addictive (because again, no profit motive).
So we should ban viral mechanics, those old Facebook games, dark UI/UX patterns, and pay-to-play mobile games as well? They often work in the same manner, and yet you yourself appear to know the risks and appear to be immune to them.
For the record: I like gambling. I like drinking, too. I have neither a gambling addiction nor an alcohol addiction. Should I be disallowed these things I find pleasurable because a subset of the population abuses these things?
Of course, there are counter arguments to this. How can we know that giving up on gambling or even removing the whole gambling industry will help or save anyone? I have no answer. Only opinion. It's a rough one.
This is a very interesting question, thanks for posting it. For me the answer is yes.
Another question: if someone who isn't addicted to gambling doesn't give up gambling to save those who are addicted, what punishment would you support the state imposing? (jail, fines, forced "treatment", etc)
And another: if someone who is addicted to gambling doesn't give up gambling, what punishment would you support the state imposing? (jail, fines, forced "treatment", etc)
I ask these questions because I don't think analogous ones were considered before launching the drug war. For me the answer to both is a whole-hearted "no punishment".
I like doing cocaine. The Government sees fit to make it illegal - despite the fact I'm a high functioning user. [hypothetical]
We already have plenty of examples where the government stops us doing stuff that might be fun "for our own good". I'm more on the fence about gambling than drugs - it seems like the start of a slippery slope that would negatively affect raiding guilds the world over...
All of this is to say that they are ultra paranoid of changes that could lead to fraud. Remote updates without their review woudn't pass. With their approval and auditing maybe.
Source: My boss worked in this industry and talks about it basically every lunch.
Of course this is done. It is just slower than in the web as other people has pointed out you can't change things on the fly.
I worked for the gambling industry and we had a statistics department that take care of this kind of things. You try different machines and you have different local maximums:
- There is the machine for the slow player that is there all day. It gives back a lot of small rewards so people keep playing and playing. It doesn't makes so much money but makes sure that your section of machines (each section is from a different company) is never empty.
- There are hard machines for places like Las Vegas. People bets hard and expects big colorful prices.
- There are machines for the small town casinos. This machines are softer than the ones in Las Vegas. But also optimized for its target audience.
Then there is the amount of noise, your section of machines should look like is giving prices all the time. The design of the cabinet (in Mexico they have a place to put plates as people eats there).
Yes. It is serious business. And there are a million considerations that each company takes into account. A/B testing was there a lot before the web was a thing.
So a company based on exploiting human addiction caused another company based on exploiting human addiction to go out of business. I can just barely hear the world's tiniest violin playing the saddest song for them.
"[My father] was poor, but he loved to gamble. I saw the cost of a family immersion into losing money on gaming. When I look at people like that, I see the faces of my parents."
Yet he has no issues with taking money from such families on an unprecedented scale - as long as it's in person. You have to be very...."morally flexible"......to work anywhere near the gaming industry. It is built specifically to create and exploit gambling addiction - roughly 50% of revenue comes from 2% of players.
I would venture that the main reason he fights against online gambling is so that people that wish to gamble legally need to come to his physical casinos instead.
It's the same reason that online poker is specifically outlined in Washington State - the native American casinos in the state (especially Puyallup) donated a LOT of money to candidates to make that happen.
(yes, those companies paid taxes too)
Personal anecdote: I worked for a similar company (right down to the "[location] Candy and Tobacco" name) for a summer during college. Picking orders in a warehouse and unloading/loading trucks from 5 AM to 5 PM wasn't exactly fun, but it allowed me to buy textbooks the next semester. Worked with a lot of good people, too. Manual labor alongside people from all walks of life puts things in perspective.
I often worked in the cigarette room picking orders and applying tax stamps. When you're doing that sort of work you're not thinking "Oh man, time to ship out more of the poison to suckers today!" you're thinking, "Oh shit, I need to pick 30 cartons of X and get them stamped before the truck leaves in 20 minutes or I'll be in deep shit".
Better version that doesn't have all kind of broken artifacts.
I enjoy hearing the justification of "friendship" between the high roller, and his fixer. Pretty hilarious.
I imagine its similar for casinos, so they have no real incentive to actually stop addiction as addicts are their revenue generating "whales."
But this absolutely explains a lot of these things. For a while, I wondered why freemium games don't offer an "unlock all" option for $2, or $10, or $100? Turns out, it's because even $100 would be a massive loss compared to what the 'top' players sink into Candy Crush.
For that matter, the heaviest-drinking 10% of adults consume more alcohol than the other 90% combined.
This whole question has affected my feelings on addiction and vice industries. Its one thing to have an industry that has harmful side effects, or drives some people to failures of willpower. It's another to have an industry that depends on addiction or compulsive use, and it turns out that's almost always the case.
Basically, it comes out of survey data about how much alcohol people consume. But when you take the actual results from the survey and multiply it by the population of the US, you only get about half as much alcohol consumption as there are sales of alcohol.
So the guy who ran the survey just multiplied all the numbers by two. People who said they had 5 drinks per night, he assumes they have 10 drinks per night. In contrast, the people who said they have 1 drink per month, he assumes 2 drinks per month.
That's pretty dubious. It seems like it's a LOT more plausible that if you have 3 drinks per month, you'd report just one, than if you report 5 drinks per night, actually you take 10.
I remember being shocked by those numbers. 10 per night is high-impact even with high tolerance, and totally out of the question for lots of people. For 5% of Americans to drink more than that would be wild, since you've largely slashed your potential demographic to good-sized men.
And the reverse explanation, where the low end is particularly bad at estimating, would match with everything else people estimate. If you have a beer after work and a second with dinner, you can probably say "two a day" with confidence. If you have a glass of wine sometimes, out with friends, but not often, it's not terribly easy to guess whether that's two a month or one every two months.
I sort of see why he used his estimate, because you have to bring up the low end hugely to account for so much absence, but it seems unjustifiable to assume that the heaviest drinkers could even survive having their numbers doubled.
Tie that with a modest increase in the lower-end reporters, and perhaps a modest decrease in the highest-end reporters (are there people who said they average 5 drinks a night who really average 4 because in fact their drinking is variable per night and averaging across a week is more mental record keeping + math than they bothered with when answering a survey?), and you get something that strikes me as more congruent with basically all other facts that I've observed about the world.
Now, that probably does still mean that the top decile accounts for an astonishing percentage of overall alcohol consumption, on a relative basis -- just the absolute amount is less incredible.
And yeah - I don't doubt it's a power law thing, pretty much all addictive substances are. I imagine the 95th percentile of use for a lot of drugs would be lethal for a first-time user. But the raw dose claimed for alcohol here was bizarre, and I'm glad to have it explained.
I wish I could remember the source but I'm sure I've heard of freemium developers researching their biggest whales and then tailoring high end items to match the colours of their favourite football team.
There's two things restraining other businesses from profiting like this.
First, lots are basically fixed-consumption - if you buy a vacuum cleaner, there's effectively no chance of selling you another one next week. Across all your customers, you have an effectively flat purchase rate. So all you can do there is improve margins and reach unserved customers (and maybe pursue planned obsolescence).
Second, most unbounded-consumption businesses have normal distributions of consumption. People who buy string cheese maybe eat an average of five a week, with a low-SD normal distribution around that. So you market your cheese sticks to your prototypical customer to maximize profit.
Any power-law business sells to whales. That means drugs and gambling, but I should also observe that enterprise sales count. If Proctor and Gamble will pay 10,000X as much for your security consulting as a local pizza shop, you're selling to whales.
I did it for the entertainment & group inclusion(poker). I justified it as I didn't lose $200, I paid for several(sometimes many) hours of entertainment. Then one time I ran out of time while I was up several hundred. The next time was again time constrained and I walked w/ $700.* The last time I met an old friend I haen't sen in 15 years and we blew our cash on drinks talking about old times. I figure I'll never be this close to even ever again so I haven't played again in 9 years.
*I'm still way behind, but figure the odds of recouping more are stacked against me.
That, in and of itself isn't bad, nothing wrong with always picking gambling when you have some free time and money.
With addiction, of any kind, it kind of creeps past the point of free time and money. Preferring X over sleep, work, food, whatever other things are important is where it gets pretty rough for people.
So anyway, yeah, there's an element of personal choice. When the biases get so strong, it's hard to recognize that a choice is even being made. People don't exactly choose to brush their teeth in the morning, it's just something that happens as part of the morning routine. It's technically a choice, but the bias is so strong, people rarely consider not brushing their teeth. (as a somewhat silly example)
* More so than just getting a lot, I was missing work, foregoing important events and losing sleep to engage with any woman who gave me permission. Aging & perpetual lack of funds cured that one for me, although it is always on my mind. I can not credit that to any personal strength.
edit:reword last sentences and fix *s
They are nearly a continuous eye roll of outraged geeks complaining about how states like NY were an affront to freedom and liberty.
Edit: The downvotes are awesome on this topic. Folks love their crack.
I admit to not knowing how they work, but do they typically have any more interaction than "pull lever, sporadically receive reward"?
I also fondly remember booster pack draft games - very fun and the "in" price is completely worth the time spent.
Slots give you exactly nothing except an empty wallet in most cases. At least if you play poker or blackjack you can interact with other humans...
This is the 101 explanation of the science at work. It's basically a conditioned response to dopamine caused by pulling the lever. At it's most basic level, if you are gambler, you pull the lever and get a neurotransmitter reward.
The moral of the story is that if there were no profit motive on the part of the casinos, eventually gamblers could be conditioned to sit at a slot machine that has had the payout slot removed, thus explaining the woman playing "no payout" slots on her phone. I've often joked that my dogs must ask themselves sometimes, "he tells me to sit and my butt just hits the ground. Why? What's wrong with me?" One might get the same response from the woman were she able to give you an honest answer. Like my dogs, she has probably long since forgotten why she even plays slots on her phone.
The training will probably come in handy for the human pup, too. As I watched the one set of friends who would tolerate a comparison between their offspring and dogs, and how they raised their kids, they probably got tired of me pointing out, "oh, so it's just like training dogs..". :-) I wish my old man was a little more into that whole "positive training" thing.
I have played slots in the past when killing time in vegas (e.g. waiting for a flight), and I've always found that it's a really boring way to slowly spend $100.
I also have literally no idea wtf is going on on the screens of those things. At least with blackjack and craps, I know the odds and how the mechanics of the game actually work.
The first time I was in Las Vegas I sat down and figured out the odds for everything, and I discovered that the odds for the crap table were something like .493. If I bet a dollar, it would only cost me 1.4 cents. So I thought to myself, “Why am I so reluctant to bet? It hardly costs anything!”
So I started betting, and right away I lost five dollars in succession—one, two, three, four, five. I was supposed to be out only seven cents; instead, I was five dollars behind! I’ve never gambled since then (with my own money, that is). I’m very lucky that I started off losing.
They give the player a semblance of control over the game, but in the end the math still works out just like a regular slot.
No real point here, just an interesting difference between the fundamental payout systems two extremely similar yet almost overwhelmingly different types of machines use.
Also of note is that fruit machines use a 'full hopper' system of payouts, in which the machine will only give out small wins until the 'hopper' (which is really just a number set by the establishment's owner) is full, at which point the relatively big payouts start happening - again, compared to the usual system of American slot machines of "this machine will pay out 9X.X% of what's put into it". This system means that you can infact 'outplay' a fruit machine - by not playing it until you think the hopper is full (or close to it).
I've had many a cheap night out by watching punters on fruities and picking the right moment - and that look of pure defeat on the bloke's face who just abandoned the machine is priceless too (although I usually buy 'em a drink if they witness it, so as not to add insult to injury)
I eventually quit cold turkey. I'm not sure I regret those four years, I made some great friends, many of whom I still keep in touch with, but it was no doubt an addiction, and it cost me a decent amount of "real life" advancement imo.
I played quite heavily for about 2.5 years while I was still in school, in the early days of the game. Probably close to 12,000 hours. But to me, those hours were actually a great investment for following reasons: 1) When I started out, I set out to play in the best global PvE guild. After two years, I achieved that and played with them for another 6 months; and 2) two years later, I had an idea for a gaming related app that took me two months to build and eventually made me $250k. Wouldn't have had that idea without my WoW experience.
Climbing as a random player to joining a top guild showed me that you can achieve anything reasonable in life if you put your mind to it. WoW had 11 million players at the time and for a while I was considered a top 100 player in the game. In a way, it gave me a sped up view of life. And honestly, I'm grateful for that because I probably wouldn't be where I am now!
I find it to be a happiness trap myself, it puts you in a gated world which doles out satisfaction, but you can never achieve long-lasting emotional and physical well being. When the person wakes up at 40, 50 and finds a life of little achievement from what they once dreamed, now it being too late to truly make big moves... similar to people who spend all their time functionally drinking or smoking weed. Yes, you can survive, but when your working days are over and you find you have no skills or abilities or hobbies or close relationships, what has your life been for?
I've had a parent that after a lifetime of working and providing and chilling out by having beers exit the workforce and suddenly having nothing to attach to. I fear the same for my friends.
I would say that my love of alcohol and wine in particular would qualify as an addiction; but at the same time I'm able to hold down a job. My bosses are happy with my work and I do feel fulfilled with what I've accomplished at the end of the workday.
I'm sure psychologists would have a field day with me but as far as your original question I've offered my input.
E: to amend that, I do have a small group of close male friends but I do have trouble finding an intimate relationship, due to other (unrelated? maybe?) issues with women.
I realize I might have taken this a bit too personally and lost track of the overall theme. I do agree that judging the effect of certain vices could also be judged by more than just "does it affect your livelihood".
Many modern games have a ladder or elo system that you can only improve though increasing your ability to win (i.e. NOT just playing). I'd argue there is at least some value in taking enjoyment from improving yourself at any task. With that said if you are stuck at the 50% winloss playing over and over again you are probably trending to gambling addiction.
Personally, I don't gamble - I'm afraid I'd win. I have a super addictive personality and I think hitting the Jackpot on a slot machine would be the most dangerous thing ever to a guy like me.
In a way, yes. But that's not the purpose. If you play ranked games, or any games of skill really, playing a completely mismatched game is just no fun. Imagine you want to play basketball for example, but you can't choose who you're playing with - you turn up and you're with a 2yo baby against NBA pros. Or the other way around. If there's no realistic challenge people will just lose interest.
> it feels like they're wasting all the early parts of their lives away.
Do you think the same of kids going to play soccer with their friends? Why / why not?
Has to do with the social skills that you learn and practice. Gaming is an escape from the real world in a bit of a different way - all social contact is reduced and "giving up" is as easy as a keystroke. The rewards you're getting are intangible and created by a programmer to entice you to make numbers go up or get a new hat, only applicable while you're still playing the game. It can be a wonderful place for people on the low end of the social spectrum to practice working together in a safe environment but rarely have I seen people get better at overcoming social problems that require tenacity through gaming.
> "giving up" is as easy as a keystroke
Kids often rage-quit games and interactions in real life games. Not sure if it's that different from this point of view.
Its like when you use a clicker to train a dog. Do the trick - hear the click - and get a treat. Eventually you don't get the treat anymore more, but that doesnt stop you doing the trick (putting another coin in the slot).
Is there some problem with the above? Is there a compelling reason this would harm civil liberties that I'm missing? It's not worse than banning gambling altogether, and should prevent most embezzling or gambling borrowed funds.
I know at least one physical casino where the tax authorities are very happy looking the other way, as patrons gamble tons of dirty cash. They do look very intently on the income and track it carefully because there is a percentage fee on gambling. Presumably that is why people are allowed to gamble freely.
I can come up with a few arguments against your idea - on the balance it is sound, but what should the limit be on "nominal"?
I can go to the cinema on a weekly basis, which with ticket prices, popcorn and other concessions can be quite an expensive hobby, or I can hit the casinos a couple times a year where I could spend the same amount of money - it is all entertainment and who is to say one is better for me than the other?
I don't know any country that has a limit on how much alcohol you can buy at a time (most have age restrictions, some have time and place restrictions, some won't sell you if you are already drunk), yet there are alcoholics in any place. Should we ban or limit alcohol to some nominal amount? If not, why should we treat gambling differently?
That said, I am all about making it easy for people to see how much they have spent, and of course be honest upfront.
No, because nobody steals $4 million to buy alcohol. Alcoholics don't tend to be spending anywhere near the numbers in OP.
Even if nominal was 0, the proposal would still prevent stealing or borrowed money being gambled. It's not an essential part of the proposal.
If tax authorities are overlooking theft being gambled because they get a cut, then incentives have not been lined up properly. Theft causes a negative externality greater than the thief's gain, so society should not want theft, and if it does then there's a problem.
I don't object that nobody should gamble on stolen or borrowed money (though some hedge funds may disagree), but that is different from having some nominal limit. For one how about savings? How about retired people with too much time and large pensions? How about saving up for a honeymoon in vegas?
I love this mixed analogy.
Similar, but different, the UK does restrict the amount of non-prescription pain killers you can buy. I once tried to buy five packets of Nurofen (Ibuprofen) from a supermarket and was restricted to just two packets. I simply went to the next supermarket up the road and bought two more packets.
If there was a limit on how much alcohol people could buy at one time, wouldn't they just do the same thing?
They have been abused. They need to be amended.
We picture they are being used to go after Mob types.
They use them whenever they can.
How do I know? I almost got into trouble giving my parents a bit over $10,000 cash years ago.
A bank teller turned me into the IRS. Bank employees can be awarded money for turning in any amount of money "they feel" might be suspect. It doesn't even have to be over $10,000. Yes--a bank teller. Anyone in that bank.
Got a call from the IRS. They mentioned I could get my parents in trouble. They stated this is a "curtesy call", but it scared the chit out of me.
They mentioned the RICO statues--in a joking way. I went to the library to look up RICO statutes. Yea, this is hilarious?
I sold a car--I restored, and gave my mom money she could use.
Never in a million years, did I think she could get in legal trouble.
I still remember paying a useless lawyer $500 at 5 a.m. to basically say, "give me a ten thousand dollar retainer." I said, "but what have I don't illegailly?" He paused. "Well nothing?" I walked out of his office, thinking this is a weird system. I still get his lousy Christmas cards.
Yes--this stuff happens all the time.
Like slot machines that pump random awards and chance into slot user, I feel the surge of social approval and dopamine rush too when I get a Reddit upvote, a Facebook Like, IG comment, Tumblr reblog etc.
Also like how gambling addicts get into a "zombie flow-state" when they're one with the machine, I feel the same way scrolling through pages after pages of Hacker News/Reddit/NYTimes/ESPN/YouTube popular channels. The thrill is gone, but the mechanics of pulling the slots pulley is embedded in my brain, watching one more YouTube video of a political pundit railing about the election, one more reaction video about a Internet meme, sometimes even re-watching video's like re-watching music lyrics video to relive the laughter, that feeling - and only in the middle of the video wondering how I got there, like sometimes driving to a destination other than your work office but your brain goes on autopilot and takes the other turn to your office; and you don't realize it until you're there.
Also like how casino's are a very anonymous and comforting place to addicts, I feel very safe and comfortable in hanging out with like-minded individuals on online forums whom I only know a vague outline of, but whose weariness and anonymity like mine are just as addicted and plugged into the zombie human-machine interface; I feel intuned and comfortable with. Like the anti-social meme's ("Ez game, Ez lyfe") on online games, alt-right memes on some Subreddits (Pepe memes, Trump is a racist) and IT memes on HN (for Elon Musk's new Tesla model, against Holmes' Theranos, for Peter Thiel's Fellowship, against Peter Thiel's endorsements, employees vs. funders), I commiserate with the anger and rage; and the identification of these online communities, just to feel like I am a part of something and also to direct my emotions to have some kind of drama & risk in my otherwise sterile electronic life; sometimes I feel I feel simultaneous the negative emotions and positive identifications on both sides of the argument.
I guess at least my addiction isn't too bad given I'm only losing on my account balance of time and attention although that feeling of coming out of a six hours bender on the net trying to find the perfect co-working space in my city, debating through all the Yelp/CityData threads for the pro's and con's, feels eerily like coming out a casino sliding doors to bright sunlight at 8AM after a 18hr binge at the blackjack table; somehow in the back of your mind, you already accepted that you'll be economically bankrupt in exchange for a chase for an emotional high - almost a spiritual transcendence, but somehow you wound up just feeling morally bankrupt.
And then I go through my habits and get better internet hygiene. One such thing that helped was setting time limits or when I switched for instance to using Google Reader.
Unfortunately google killed it, so I was lost for a while.
Another trick that worked for a bit was using Calibre to dump websites/articles (from RSS feeds) into a daily .epub for my Kindle. Browsing the web on an offline device is really nice, as it removes the impulse for clicking on links.
I've been using Google Newsstand recently, and it seems to work well in providing new content without sucking you down a rabbit hole. It would be nice to be able to add your own RSS feeds like reader though.
However the documentation seems rather complete:
Basically you can set up some automated feeds and then each day when launching Calibre you'll get an ebook with the result of those feed. Which can then automatically be uploaded on your ebook reader.
I think I did some customization to get a HN feed onto that system. These feeds are programmed as python scripts so it is rather accessible
If anyone is unsure whether they have a problem that could be described as an addiction, just google "addiction 20 questions" and apply what you find to your own behaviour. Bottom line, if your behaviour is compulsive even in the face of intellectual awareness that it is being done to the detriment of self or others, where weak rationalisations are used to self-justify excess indulgence in <substance/behaviour>, then you could fairly describe it as an addiction to <substance/behaviour>.
It's an episode of the Series 'Black Mirror'. Well worth the watch.
Sounds like video games. (Disclosure: I'm developing a multiplayer game, precisely because I feel the underlying similarities to resort casinos in multiplayer games insult my intelligence.)
Some of my happiest games spending has been for 'unjustifiably' short games, where no one ever makes me grind to the point of frustration, and I can just see some great content. The winners in my Steam library range from KSP to <10 hour exploration experiences.
And then there's WoW. Which apparently passed 6 million man-hours played sometime back in 2011...
The man had no job, maxed out credit card, and a bank gave him a loan of 110k? Am I crazy to think this is insane on the bank's behalf?
Another consideration is the person making the loan at PNC can be better off even if PNC is worse off.
That is dirty, dirty business. Giving out loans that will never be paid back, bundling them up and selling an opaque package full of risks. They said that was a big part of what started the crisis. I'm glad I wasn't part of that.
This is an example of situations where I see arguments along the lines of "it was legal, so it wasn't wrong". Grr...
Yes, they exploit human psychology to convince people to spend money, potentially large amounts of money, unwisely on something they don't actually need. That's the purpose of the entire field of marketing, from advertising jingles on the radio in the 1930's to the sexy elf girl on the Everquest box in the 1990's to the reward point cards popping up at every store in the 2010's.
Yes, it's shitty, slimy, exploitative and more than a little creepy. I personally hate marketing, and in fact I've met very few people that enjoy being targeted by it. But the fact of the matter is, as long as you have large societies of people talking to each other, businesses will be built on speaking to customers and convincing them to part with their money for some product of very questionable value. If you legalize, you can regulate and tax, so that the games are relatively clean and fair, and enforcement of disputes is handled relatively non-violently through the legal system. Otherwise, you'll just drive it underground.
No. They are uneducated and they need help. They are not making rational decisions as described, they are navigating by their feelings.
I helped provide social welfare for people like this in a side gig. One woman was just the _nicest_ you could ever meet; she helped everyone. But when she stepped into a casino, something in her subconscious told her that the universe was finally going to reward her goodness.
I still try to stay in touch with her daughter, who graduated from high school as a homeless kid.
The family was terribly affected. But I still sympathize with the mom. She didn't voluntarily choose this problem. It doesn't even take sophisticated software to manipulate her. People continue to help her move forward, though, and she can change and is mostly OK these days.
> That's the purpose of the entire field of marketing
I disagree; that's simply black and white thinking. If you hear "let's sell people something" and think, "oh, they want to exploit somebody," that's not how it actually works; it's just your perception. Do _some_ people and organizations work in an exploitative way? Sure. Do they all? No. I just don't believe that putting out the guy with the sandwich board equates with manipulation, or that any manipulation is all of the same degree.
The HN audience converges with the audience that absolutely despises marketing; this is due to their preferred cognitive toolset which is very analytical and uncomfortable with the power of emotion. Others have different toolsets. They see marketing as a way to get people on both ends of a deal good outcomes in a mostly-good world.
> I personally hate marketing
I wouldn't trust that; marketing is just a reflection of human cognitive functions which are probably not a preferred part of your personal approach to life. A huge segment of society sees it as a way to move forward productively, even though it does carry risk like anything else.
But then you went on to describe advertising.
Explain how the entire field of manufacturing is not to "create things people don't need"? Can you think of any counter examples?
What if someone markets or advertises this item?
The original intent of the design was to allow for larger payouts without the need to increase the size of the machine.
I'd love to see a thorough comparison between these two. I think there's a lot of room to explore similarity in stigmas around addiction and indulgence in these pastimes, how people justify it, and the addiction mechanisms at play. Maybe there's even an exploration of healthy gambling habits that mirror healthy entertainment habits? I'd love to read about this stuff.
Jonathan Blow has a great presentation on the mechanisms of video game addiction and the role of the game designer in building ethically responsible games . I highly recommend it to anybody who's interested in exploring this line of thinking.
Oh, I think you'd find parallels with a lot of things beyond just games and gambling. I say that because I've recently recognized in myself a few of those parallels. Take the mandolin that I've taken up in the last couple of years (having played other stringed instruments for decades). Though not a formal study or anything, I see the same kinds of feelings when I nail a difficult riff as I do when I finally beat that final boss in BioShockingGrandAutoDuty. The difference is that it might take a few years before one gets to that "nail the riff" state on an instrument, whereas a slot machine and CallOfBattleHalo have very low bars.
I can even see some addictive qualities (for my personality, at least). When I've got a tune that I've been working on rattling around in my head, I find that there are times that I have a...compulsion?...to get my fingers on a fretboard and try a different approach or a different fingering. Hard to describe, but it very much parallels what it's like when I've got a new game and am itching to get home and play it.
The difference is, of course, that few people complain when you've gotten really damned good on that instrument and I imagine very few people have lost their house because they play their mandolin too much (though some might lose their house because they thought music was a viable career). So we probably just don't give it much thought beyond those behaviors that are easily demonstrated to be destructive.
- Even if a game is played sticking to optimal strategy, odds are in favor of the house. Through game rules, and/or house rules.
- Many players are tourists that do not know how to play optimally. Those subdize players that win, and leave a margin overall.
- They encourage drinking by offering alcohol for free to make people less inhibited, less risk averse and diminish their ability to play to the best of their ability.
- There are cognitive biases that create the perception of a higher probability of winning: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambler%27s_fallacy
- Players do not use currency directly, but chips. Chips have a more playful connotation than currency, and create a level of indirection that subconsciously distracts people from the fact they are dealing with money.
Then, some personality traits and mental health conditions can contribute to less risk aversion and other aspects that lead to unreasonable gambling.
Isn't this all businesses in a capitalist system? Try to get as money as you can from people legally.
- Is capitalism in and of itself good?
- Are humans purely rational beings? Should they be treated as such?
- Does legality imply ethics? If it's legal does that mean it's good?
- Laws change. Does that mean that ethics change at the same time as laws?
- If people want to create laws and regulations that prevent them from making common mistakes at the expense of pure freedom, is that okay?
There's limited information in your comment, so please don't take these questions as an assumption on my part of what you believe.
This is a non-sequitur. Someone taking a stance against gambling doesn't mean they are problem gamblers.
> Bad at school? It's a mental disorder.
It goes without saying that not everyone who is bad at school has a mental disorder, but having a mental disorder can obviously have an adverse effect on performance at school.
If you google for "Correlation between mental disorders and school marks" you can find some studies that seem to indicate that there is a correlation.
> Gambling addiction? It's a bug in the brain. Everybody else is responsible for one's woes
What else would you call it? It has a negative expected value yet I've meet otherwise very smart people who gamble far more than they can afford desperate to make money. Doesn't remove responsibility, but why should we as a society be expected to accommodate businesses that hurt individuals?
Based on that - I think an open informational model would go a long way.
I imagine this would be a history or graphing of win vs. loss and dollar amounts or similar statistics for the customer/gambler.
It could be provided on say a slip of paper, presented each time the customer goes to the cage or buys chips at the tables.
The customer could even refuse the paper if they 'wanted to bury their head in the sand'.
"Your most likely outcome at this table is to lose 20 cents for every 10 dollars you play". Or "If you play $100 at this table you will most likely leave with $98". The problem is you'd need to find a way that actually sounds bad.
Still, the government funding its expenditures via regressive and actively harmful methods always rubbed me the wrong way.
Today it is extremely expensive to open a casino. I'm not sure what the laws for offline casino are, but license costs for a new online casino are 100s of 1000s to millions USD per year. Subsequently there are very few companies that compete in this space -> there is artificially limited supply -> the price for gambling is high. The price for gambling is the players average loss per bet (called the house edge). It varies from a few % to over 10% for most casino games. It's what makes the gambler loose in the long run.
Say online gambling were legal in the US. There would be way way more online casinos competing for the player. This competition would drive down the house edge to either very close to or actually 0. A 0% house edge would do away with problem gambling. Gambling addicts make 1000s of bets per day, and the law of big numbers dictates that they would not loose money over the long run. This does not even factor in that online casinos would be VC funded, and would not need to make a profit for a long time, which would drive down the price even further.
This isn't just a lofty libertarian theory. The bitcoin gambling market is largely deregulated and the house edge in bitcoin casinos is way lower (1% - 0.1%) than for regulated casinos. Recall that regulated casinos have to somehow pay huge licensing costs to the state, that's money that their players have to loose.
Long story short, it is my conviction that online gambling laws are what make gambling addicts loose money (and much more, see article). Do away with the regulation and the market forces will lead to a state where gambling addicts do not loose any more money.
(full disclosure: I run a bitcoin casino)
Edit: also, I'm not sure if that's quite true. The possibility of going bust introduces an asymmetry that makes your long term expected value lower.
Also, why open a Casino? That's expensive. It's much cheaper to run your own daily numbers game. The old street level games were popular because the "policy kings" apparently took less than the state does in legal lotteries.
Also, virtual reel maps allow you to have wins over 10,000 units. That enables choice, some people might want to play a large-award machine. There is no deceit there. If the award says "8 million dollars", you know that winning symbol does not have a 1/22 chance of coming up. I have played megabucks, a progressive slot with a $10mm award, for a couple hours. I believe I got one winning megabucks symbol on the first reel, perhaps 4-6 times. That seems in line with its rough expected probability. No deceit. If the first symbol, and (!!) the second symbol came up with their true 1/22 probability, but conveniently the third symbol always missed, it might fool some people initially. But the people who play these machines often would figure it out and their gambler's superstition would kick in. They'd say "those machines are rigged, I've gotten 2/3 winning symbols hundreds of times but I never get the third. I wont play them anymore."
For anyone who is outright against all gambling, its important to remember that you will never shut it down. If you make it illegal, people will go online, or the mafia will have their "numbers" game, people will bet on sports through bookies, etc. The shadier the source, the dirtier it gets. I've heard of casinos in south america that had "inaugural wins", where they'd rig the machine to pay them the first time they sit down in order to hook them. That is sick.
The first reform I'd like to see is the $1200 tax limit increased. Thats an unfair tax on everyone, addict or not. It should be raised to account for the cost of living and inflation. I don't think it's been changed in at least the last 15 years.
Second, I think the optimal solution here is to legislate some sort of "gambler's bankruptcy", where someone surrenders their assets to a court, which then puts them on a forced budget and severely impedes their ability to gamble. That way it could perhaps prevent them from being homeless, sued, etc.
Third, I think that if you embezzle or otherwise use stolen funds to gamble that should absolutely be recoverable by the victim. If I buy stolen property, the court has no problem seizing that from me and returning it to its rightful owner. If the casinos sell entertainment and receive stolen funds, they absolutely should suffer the consequences just like an ordinary citizen. If they see a "whale" coming in and extend all these benefits to them, it should be their onus to verify that person's income.
- third wheel spins that change visuals/audio to enhance anticipation of landing that last needed symbol
- symbols that look very close to eachother
- symbols that appear to be stopping then move at the last moment
- bonus wheels with false probabilities, or fake-out stops at high value slices
- pre-determined picking on features
In poker the user might expect the presentation to be based on probability (52 choose 5) and the 2nd example would result in more near misses than expected, exploiting the effect of a near miss. In slots there's not really such an expectation rooted in probability beyond what the machine presents on screen
This is a nice idea, but it's not a workable system for money. For one, because money is fungible, you can't actually track who has it. If someone steals $1 million from an employer, and also drains all his personal assets (total $1 million), gambling a total of $2m at five different casinos over the course of several months, who do you claw the money back from? Who got the stolen money? How could any casino reasonable have figured anything out here, since he could easily have proved he had $1m in assets prior to the gambling?
To see some of this technology in action, try "freeslots.com".
This site has simulated reel-type slot machines, done quite well.
The site has been around for years, but it's now HTML5 instead of Java-based. The payout ratio for the different machines varies; some have a positive payout ratio. If you get a modest number of credits, you can sign up for their "sweepstakes". It seems to be a tool to find new gambling addicts.
Those wondering, this one has a very nice payout rate: http://www.freeslots.com/Slot6.htm
Relates casinos to World of Warcraft, mobile gaming, and everything else that uses similar feedback mechanisms.
Im a big fan of sportsbetting but can see how it can get out of control pretty quickly. I was betting on sports which I wouldn't even usually watch. My mate sent me a link to "gamblr.io" which we all use as group now. Keeps everyone accountable for total spend etc.
They only talk about when they win.
There often seems to be a sentiment of "Why congratulate a recovering alcoholic? I've never had a drinking problem so why isn't someone congratulating me." from those who have never experienced or been close to someone who is experiencing a never ending addictive loop. Generally this attitude comes from arrogance, inexperience, and youth.
What it boils down to is that the addict is unable to achieve homeostasis with their environment. Unfulfilling relationships (both romantic and platonic), financial burdens, lack of a job, lack of intimacy all contribute to addictive behavior.
It's easy to blame a particular molecule for ruining someone's life. It's less easy to blame a system that turns men into machines.
I can confirm this anecdotally. In my family tree, just considering my parents, biological uncles/aunts and first-cousins - out of a total population of 19, our family has had 8 distinct individuals who were either alcoholic, drug addicted or compulsive gamblers, for a total of 8 out of 19. I am one of those (in recovery since 1998).
I can now recognise the telltale behavioural signs that may indicate tendency to compulsive/addictive behaviour. I'd love to see a cheap genetic test for addictiveness made available.
And I believe the vast majority stopped using, so environment has some reinforcing aspect to addiction.
maybe it's not the "system" but the success of the system that is to blame ? All the homeless, impoverished, 3rd-world people dont have time to get addicted to things because they're trying to eat! I almost want to agree with you that its the unnatural constraints that capitalism puts us under. But at the end of the day, we as Westerners generally have money to buy dope/gamble/drink etc. The only place that money comes from is our collective prosperity. I say it's our collective prosperity that enables us to gorge ourselves on whatever vices we prefer. Look at how many celebrities implode because they have the money to buy whatever pleasure-substances they want.
edit: spell checker changed psychological to something u related & I added how long I've known these people.
Good for you on quitting the cigs. If I may inquire, how long did you take it? Did it work the 1st time? Any disturbing imagery or dreams? I am genuinely curious, as I am a nicotine junky myself.
The biggest epiphany you get from quitting smoking is realizing that cigarettes aren't inherently pleasurable, smoking one just removes the symptoms from nicotine withdrawal in a way that other nicotine replacements can't. While everyone seems conceptually know this, it's surprisingly hard to really get it to sink into your own brain. Truly understanding/believing that combined to a round of Chantix took care of things for good.
Obviously talk to your doctor.
And many did, I assume. Were there studies that unequivocally showed that the non-addicted had good jobs, stable relationships, and a purpose in life, etc? There are lots of stories of successful college students, etc., who start dabbling in drugs and spiral down despite having all their ducks lined up in a row.
It seems to me that it's just as likely down to genetics. Some people are predisposed to addiction to certain things, and some aren't.
As a dumb anecdote, I smoked briefly after college because my girlfriend did. When I stopped dating her, I stopped smoking. I tend to think that I'm probably not predisposed to nicotine addiction.
But I know, it was easier to feel that you were a rebel fighting conventional wisdom than if you had said "cocaine" instead of weed.