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The sights and sounds of winning make slot machines irresistible

Monday, 02 March 2020

New research has shown that the sights and sounds of winning on a slot machine may increase your desire to play.

The study, published in Addiction was carried out by scientists from the University of Nottingham and University of Alberta and shows that that people prefer to play on virtual slot machines that provide casino-related cues, such as the sound of coins dropping or symbols of dollar signs.

The researchers found that people preferred to play on machines with these cues no matter how risky the machine was, and regardless of when the sound or visual effects appeared.

Attraction to slot machines and memory for winning can be influenced by factors other than the amount of money won on a slot machine. People should be aware that their attraction and sense of winning may be biased by what they see and hear – and in some cases this could be a factor in creating or feeding a gambling addiction.
Dr Christopher Madan, School of Psychology

The study, was led by Professor Marcia Spetch in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta, she said: "These results show how cues associated with money or winning can make slot machines more attractive and can even make bigger wins more memorable," said Spetch. "Such cues are prevalent in casinos and likely increase the allure of slot machine gambling."

According to the UK Gaming Association, there are 10,761 gambling premises in the UK, which include betting shops, arcades and bingo halls and the slot machine industry is worth £2.1bn. Gambling addiction is estimated to cost the UK up to £1.2 billion per year.

This research was conducted in collaboration with Elliot Ludvig from Warwick University in the United Kingdom and with Yang Liu, a postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta. Funding for this research is provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Alberta Gambling Research Institute (AGRI).

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More information on the research is available from Dr Christopher Madan on Christopher.madan@nottingham.ac.uk or Jane Icke Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, on 0115 951 5751 or jane.icke@nottingham.ac.uk.

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