Subjects: Behavioral health
When Massachusetts treasurer Tim Cahill floated the idea of licensing a trio of slot parlors in the state, mental health and gambling experts said he was asking for trouble.
For fun-seekers susceptible to gambling addiction, those new video slot games might as well be crack cocaine, they claim.
The computer-driven sound-and-light extravaganzas create an allure so strong it has prompted some to wear adult diapers so they don’t have to worry about bladder control when they get on a roll.
Video slots let players gamble rapidly. There’s no more waiting for wheels to stop, cards to flip or horses to run. That’s been replaced by a mash-up of colors, bells, crowds cheering “Wheel of Fortune!” and just the right amount of payouts.
The slots also generate a disproportionate share of near-wins designed to convince players their luck is about to change.
“Slot machines (are) more problematic than other types of gambling in terms of addiction,” Mark Griffiths told the Boston Globe.
The professor of gambling studies at England’s Nottingham Trent University noted that nearly 90% of calls to gambling help-lines in Europe involve slots.
But Holly Thomsen, spokeswoman for the American Gaming Association says that despite recent growth in gambling outlets across the nation, gambling addiction rates remain flat at 1%.
And the pragmatic Cahill argues that people are going to gamble anyway, in Rhode Island and Connecticut for example.
“All we’re saying is, let Massachusetts people do what they want with their money in their state,” he told the Globe.