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ANALYSIS It would be hard to surpass video poker’s addictiveness

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–With the explosion of gambling across the nation, it is to be expected the rush is on to build the “perfect” gambling machine.

For starters, there needs to be immediacy. People need to be able to find out right away whether they have won or lost. No waiting for a weekly drawing or late-night calling out of numbers. The “perfect” machine needs to deliver immediately.

Next, add the ability to increase the amount being gambled and the time spent gambling. That involves two things. One, people have to be able to increase their bets easily. In addition, the “perfect” machine needs to be handy. After all, why spend two hours driving to a casino when one could spend two hours gambling?

Third, somehow the illusion of skill must be developed. People like to believe they can get better at an activity, that there is a “trick” to playing it, that if they play long enough they will become more skilled. They will win more.

Another factor that must be added is the ability for people to “lose” themselves in the gambling activity. Make the machine easy to play and repetitious. Add attractive colors and sounds. Allow one to play it comfortably.

Finally, build in intermittent rewards. Let a person “almost” win big and “just miss” the ultimate prize. That will reinforce their belief that just a few more tries will win the jackpot. “Near misses” are invaluable in enticing people to stay involved with this “perfect” gambling machine.

OK, there are the components. How are you going to put them together? Be creative. Be innovative. Be daring. But be forewarned as well — you will have to work hard to top the machine that already mixes these key factors very well.

That is the video poker machine, of course — what some observers have called the most addictive gambling device yet.

    About the Author

  • C. Lacy Thompson