Slots are supposed to be a fun form of entertainment. But many Australians are finding it hard to stay within their bankroll. And the Australian slots problem only seems to be growing.
The Straits Times dove into this dilemma, including an interview with health policy academic Professor Laurie Brown. But Brown wasn’t being interviewed for her advice on the subject, but rather because she’s one of the country’s many addicted slots players.
Brown has lost A$230,000 playing slot machines, and she’s spending a large deal of her time in casinos. The 58-year-old, who teaches at the University of Canberra, has since launched a campaign to curb the Australian slots problem.
Helping Expose the Slots Dilemma
Brown could’ve easily kept her problem hidden to remain a respected academic. But she doesn’t want to see others go down the same path as her.
Brown would often spend up to 6 hours playing slot machines, three times a week. What kept her going was a desire for bigger scores. Unfortunately, she lost far more money than she won, dropping as much as A$1,700 in one session.
“When I’m gambling, all rational thought disappears and I’m hyperfocused on the poker machine,” Brown explained. “I went in thinking it was free entertainment but it lures you in. You think you’ll have a big win but the machine is there to take your money.”
Not an Isolated Case
Brown is just one of many problem slots players in the Land Down Under. The country has approximately 200,000 slot machines, with around 93,000 in the state of New South Wales alone – or 1 for every 80 people.
Citing data from 2015, Australian slots players lost A$11.6 billion in 2015. This is over half of the A$22.7 billion that was lost on all regulated gambling activities.
All of this caused Australia to lead per-captia gambling lists at A$1,250 per person.
How to Curb the Problem
Dr Charles Livingstone, of Monash University, believes that Australian states need to impose limits on how many slot machines can be offered in one area.
Livingstone also suggests that slots need to be programmed differently.
“The noises, the graphics and the visuals, the lure of big money through the features and the jackpots – they impact the reward center of your brain,” he said. “It is the same sort of process in your head as having cocaine or heroin.”
There have been no major legislative changes in the way of slot machines so far. But this is a distinct possibility if the country continues struggling with their slots problem.