NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Slot machines have become the most addictive form of gambling both in the way state governments have latched on to them to generate tax revenue and in the way gamblers can’t get enough of them.
State and local governments gained about $6 billion from taxing casino gambling last year, according to a USA Today article July 26, and slot machines accounted for more than two-thirds of that money. Currently, only 15 states have no legal slot machines.
Dianne Berlin, vice chair of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, said one reason slot machines are so addictive is that the response is so quick. Her home state of Pennsylvania started with one 50-cent ticket with a drawing once a week, but now the state has 47 games, primarily scratch-offs, with two drawings a day, seven days a week.
“The reason for [the expansion of gaming] is they weren’t getting people hooked on this stuff,” Berlin told Baptist Press. “The primary goal is not to have ‘entertainment.’ The goal is to hook people on gambling because that’s where they make most of their money. They’re not going to make a whole lot of money on someone who goes into a casino once every four or five months and drops $25. They want people who will gamble at the rate of hundreds or thousands of dollars every time they go.”
On a five-cent slot machine, a person can bet $4.50 every five seconds. At that rate, it costs $54 for each minute of play.
Another reason for the popularity of slot machines, according to USA Today, is that slots do not require the skill needed to bet on horse races or play poker. On computerized slot machines, people can place hundreds of bets an hour just by pushing a button.
Among other stats about slot machines and gambling addiction:
— Nearly 40 million Americans played a slot machine in 2003, according to an annual survey of casino gambling conducted by Harrah’s Entertainment and mentioned in The New York Times Magazine’s May 9 issue.
— Each day in the United States, slot machines take in an average of more than $1 billion in wagers, The Times said.
— Collectively, slot machines gross more annually than McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Starbucks combined, the article said.
— The National Gambling Impact Commission found that following a decade of expansion in the 1990s, the national lifetime compulsive gambling population had grown by at least 50 percent, to no less than 1.2 percent based on the most conservative of its source studies. It also discovered a significant trend indicating addiction had doubled in many populations within 50 miles of casinos, according to NCALG.
— Electronic Gambling Machines, including modern slot machines, may be the most addictive. Gamblers who participate with electronic machines are becoming addicted much more quickly. One of the most recent studies show EGM gamblers arrive at the pathological gambling level in 1.08 years vs. 3.58 years with more conventional forms of table and racetrack gambling. Electronic gambling devices have been called the “crack cocaine” of the industry, according to NCALG.