Slot Machines and Problem Gambling


The word slot is used to refer to a narrow opening or groove in something. For example, a letter or postcard can be inserted into the mail slot of a post box. In addition, a slot can be an empty space or position within a schedule or program. For instance, people may book time slots at a museum visit or appointment.

Slot games are a popular form of gambling, and developers have found ways to create exciting and engaging gameplay around themes as varied as the human imagination. For instance, some slot games are based on gripping TV shows, while others feature the kind of immersive gameplay that would be possible only in an actual game show like Deal or No Deal.

Although the vast majority of gamblers are recreational players who view their gambling behavior as a harmless source of entertainment, there is a small but significant subset that experiences severe gambling problems. These problems can include financial debt, trouble in relationships and even involvement in illegal activities to support their gambling habits.

Dixon and colleagues have developed new measures of reward reactivity that are less invasive than other psychophysiological approaches. These measures are based on the ratings that participants provide about their enjoyment of playing slots. The results of these investigations imply that problem gamblers are more likely to endorse flow-like states in the context of a slots machine than nonproblem gamblers. The implications of these findings for treatment of problem gambling are discussed.