We ran this New York Times story in January. We re-post it in light of tonight’s city council meeting. We ask all Worcesterites to please say NO TO THE SLOTS PARLOR IN GREEN ISLAND!! Thank you!
– Rosalie Tirella
How Slot Machines Raise Our Hopes, Even When We’re Losing
By RANDALL STROSS, The New York Times
Published: January 13, 2013
STEP into a casino and chances are good that slot machines are filling much of the space, as far as the eye can see. That dominant presence reflects the preference of many customers for machine gambling over human-mediated table games. Not surprisingly, electronic game machines contribute a clear majority of casino revenue in the states that permit them.
What may not be so evident is how a shift in casino gambling to screen-based games contributes to gambling addiction. It’s a story that would fill a book – and just such a book has arrived: “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas” by Natasha Dow Schüll, an associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at M.I.T. The book offers a history of digital technology in casino gambling and shows how it grabs hold of players in ways never before available to equipment makers.
Professor Schüll, a cultural anthropologist, spent considerable time in Las Vegas casinos as part of her research. She met players who told her how they sought to enter a mindless state, a “zone,” in which all else is obliterated, and to stay there as long as possible.
“You aren’t really there – you’re with the machine and that’s all you’re with,” one subject said, describing the zone “where nothing else matters.”
This isn’t the only place where gamblers can reach such a state of mind. It’s also known to occur at table games and at the racetrack. But casino machines arguably supply the most immersive, distraction-free gambling experience.
Speed is one design element of modern gambling machines that helps preserve that zone. When the machines’ gear-driven handles were replaced by electronic push-buttons, the number of games that could be played in an hour doubled. On today’s video slots, played with credit cards instead of coins, players can complete a game in as little as three seconds. There is virtually no pause between plays, and virtually no opportunity to process what has just transpired. …