If it ever feels like you’re having so much fun when playing slots that you lose track of time, a new study has the answer.
According to researchers from the University of British Columbia, slots players can fall into a trance-like state, where their worries and surroundings fade away.
In some ways, this is a good thing because, as lead study author Spencer Murch points out, players can block out stress and negative emotions.
“When (problem gamblers) describe it, it’s like they forget about everything else that’s going on,” said Murch.
But the downside is that problem gamblers can become so engrossed in slot machines that they forget appointments, don’t eat, and, as Times Colonist states, neglect to urinate.
This has been a problem with slot machines ever since they were developed in the late 1800s. But the new generation of slots – which are more technologically advanced than ever – have a greater tendency to keep players fixated. The reason why is because players can wager on dozens of lines, rack up more wins per spin, and earn bonuses.
“The modern slot machine is one of the most sophisticated animal learning devices ever devised,” said Murch. “With the continuous pace of play, it’s easy to zone out while playing them.”
The study, which appears in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviours, looked at both experienced and inexperienced slots players. The results showed that experienced players were less likely to notice an immediate change in their environment when playing.
“When you watch people play slots in a casino, there isn’t a lot of excitement going on,” said senior author Luke Clark. “It looks like they are barely moving, like they are in a state of calm rather than excitement.”
While Murch doesn’t think people should stop playing slots, he does believe that the machines could be designed for more-responsible play.
“They are immersed in the game and we know they ignore things in their visual periphery,” said Murch. “If we want to present messaging with any hope of reaching problem gamblers, it should appear onscreen as opposed to placards or pamphlets.”
Based on the findings of this study, slots players should schedule breaks to avoid falling into trances. Furthermore, they should exercise strict bankroll management to avoid spending too much money.