Old Lady Slot Machine

Old Lady Slot Machine – View full size Plain Dealer File Commercial casinos earn more than 60 percent of their gambling revenue from slot machines. According to the American Gaming Association, there are 854,702 slots in the United States.

Pittsburgh, PA. (DNA) – It’s Friday night at the River Casino, and people are crowded three and four deep into rows of Wizard of the Oz slot machines.

Old Lady Slot Machine

Five refrigerator-size devices are lit and sounded like carnival booths Each slot’s video screens light up with rapid-fire images of Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the rest of the movie’s characters. Their faces grace the spinning betting reels, and their digitized voices inspire gamblers. “Show me your badge of courage!” The frightened lion roared

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As the video rolls, the slot’s blaring stereo speakers roar with the sinister “OH-EE-OH” chants of the evil witch’s henchmen. When a spin produces a big win, the computer running this new “sensory immersion” gambling machine replaces the music with a dreamy “rainbow somewhere” and sends vibrations through the player’s bucket seat like a congratulatory massage.

The five middle-aged women occupying those plush seats are transfixed, tapping the spin buttons every three or four seconds as their eyes lock onto the screen. No one has woken up for at least 30 minutes The crowd is growing anxious. “They’re going to be cold by the time we get there,” shouted a woman in a gold pantsuit.

Finally, one player got up to leave, but before any onlookers could react, his seatmate slid in and bridged the gap between their two machines, slotting each slot with one hand.

Welcome to the brave new world of gambling When Herso Casino opens early next year, it will be packed — like its Pittsburgh counterpart and other casinos around the country — with a new generation of computer-driven slots that have speed, sophistication, attractive displays and some deceptively simple gambling. Researchers and therapists are deeply concerned

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Plain Dealer science writer John Mangels interviewed more than 35 policymakers, regulators, legal experts, casino and gambling industry officials, gambling addiction researchers, treatment providers and gamblers for this series, researched and written over the past six months. Mangels also reviewed thousands of pages of gambling addiction studies, policy documents and regulatory materials. He lived in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pa. In addition to visiting casinos in Pennsylvania, the state of Pennsylvania’s Gaming Laboratory also inspected and tested slot machines there.

Advanced slots are ideal money-making machines, a quantum leap beyond the plodding mechanical “one-armed bandits” they replaced. Researchers say they tap into vulnerable parts of the brain in gamblers and can be a catalyst for out-of-control behavior in people who haven’t previously shown a problem.

The machines use an arsenal of tricks that slot programmers call “timing the device” and encourage “playing to extinction” — gambling until all the money is gone.

The pulsing music, hysterical graphics and near-constant betting odds lull gamblers into a trancelike state called “the zone” that some players say they really like to win. The goal becomes to prolong their time in the game’s sensory cocoon, allowing the machine to continue collecting cash easily.

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The screen flashes “Win!” Although the salary is lower than the wages Near-misses trick players into thinking they’re on their way to a jackpot, even though the odds reset with each spin. A secret, carefully programmed ratio of rewards and withholding sustains the suspense And during this time, the machine tracks the gambler’s behavior, helping to track future temptations.

Advanced slots have quickly become the most popular, most widespread, most profitable form of casino gambling. They are also more likely to engage in risky, excessive gambling behavior, like the Pittsburgh woman who played two slots at once.

While operators of Ohio’s new casinos routinely touted the jobs, taxes and other economic benefits, the general public did not discuss the problem and the pathological gambling that would occur.

Using a research-based analytical model, Plain Dealer estimated that at any given time, an additional 107,100 problem and pathological gamblers would be playing in the four casinos, 40,800 of them in the region. The lifetime cost to society of those addicted Ohio gamblers in bankruptcy, arrests and legal fees is at least $1.1 billion and likely much higher.

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Whether or not the new machines can be called fully addictive—gambling crack cocaine, as in the extreme—is a matter of intense debate. Casino industry officials cite the study as showing that despite the meteoric rise of slot machines, gambling addiction rates remain low.

But other research suggests that advanced slots are a magnet for pathological gamblers and that they can trigger risky gambling among almost any regular gambler, causing them to lose track of time and spending.

“Contemporary slot machine gambling has fallen on an extreme formula,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology anthropologist Natasha Shull, who has studied the casino industry for 15 years and has a book about slot machine gambling to be published in 2012. “They make you play harder, faster and harder. And they demand behavior from everyone they see out of control.”

Ohio voters allowed about 20,000 slot machines — up to 5,000 per casino — when they approved commercial gambling in 2009. No mention of its importance was made during the voting process

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Twenty thousand slots at the state’s horse racing tracks, if the governor approves a “racino” plan, would make Ohio the fifth-most slot-heavy state in the already casino-rich area. New Jersey and Mississippi There will be one slot machine for every 288 Ohio

The large number of slots in Ohio, like many others, reflects a deep, technology-driven transformation of the commercial tide that began in the 1980s and continues today.

Old-style mechanical slots allowed gamblers to make only one bet at a time, on a row of symbols that appeared in the “pay window” when the machine’s reels stopped spinning.

The limited number of symbols – cherries, oranges, etc. – that can fit on a mechanical reel means that winning combinations often come up. So the jackpots can’t be big or the casino will lose money Serious surfers find mechanical slots cheap and tedious; They left the slots to tourists and old ladies and focused on table games like blackjack and poker.

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In the 1980s and 90s, slots began to employ microprocessors and other digital devices, and it changed the character of the machine and the gambler—a perfect storm of technology and desire.

Computer chips and video screens eliminate mechanical reels, and the limits they impose on odds, bets and jackpots. The new slots have “virtual reels” inside the computer and are invisible to the gambler. They make an almost infinite number of results possible

Longer periods mean jackpot amounts can grow – a big plus for serious gamblers. The versatile video display gives gamblers a fantastic choice of winning symbol lineups, providing a false, sense of control. And digital machines are much faster Avid watchmen can rotate the watch 1,200 times per hour

View full size “I Love Lucy” slot machine of Lucille Ball, based on the 1950s TV show.

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Most sophisticated slots have a personality Programmers borrowed themes from popular TV shows and movies that resonated with the type of players casinos wanted to attract. With sound effects, video clips and touchscreens, slots have become truly interactive, using baby boomer favorites like Star Trek’s Captain Kirk and mobster Tony Soprano to bet on gamblers and highlight their wins.

Through plug-in “loyalty cards,” new slots also record megabytes of information about their regular players’ gambling habits. Casino owners use the data to identify the biggest potential losers and motivate them to return.

Advanced slots aren’t cheap; High-end models cost more than an entry-level Lexus sedan But the successful ones pay for themselves in less than six months

So it’s no surprise that slots have overtaken table games in terms of energy consumption and space on the casino floor. For example, slots in Atlantic City generated less than half of casino revenue in 1978 but more than two-thirds of that, or about $2.7 billion in 2009.

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The popularity and profit potential of advanced slots make them the primary form of gambling that casino customers encounter.

This will be especially evident in Ohio’s four casinos, which are licensed to operate 5,000 slots each. This is almost twice the size of a typical Las Vegas casino

View full size Rock Gaming LLC.

The casino will not initially install the maximum;

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