Gambling is an activity in which you stake, win and lose money. People talk about the ways gambling products are designed to keep them gambling and get them to lose more. This makes sense for the gambling companies, as the more money people lose the more money gambling companies make. But this causes consumers to experience harm and addiction.
All types of companies try and make things or experiences that people want to buy. The problem is, the more pleasurable and immersive gambling is designed to be, the more likely people are to lose control over their use of money and become physically and psychologically addicted to the experience gambling gives them.
People could prefer different kinds of experiences from gambling. For example, the soothing nature of slots, or the calculation of sports betting, or the adrenalin of big wins. But there are common factors that cause people to lose control. Often these work in combination.
One factor is how fast you can gamble and get the outcome. This makes gambling more absorbing or exciting. People explain that they lose control of how they are gambling, and how much money they are spending in a session.
I think it was like an element where if I bet sensibly and if I researched a game and picked it out, I think I was winning more often than I was losing… In-play betting was probably my biggest weakness. So when I had bets that were placed before the match and were well thought out, they were often good bets and even if they lost I could sit back and say, “Well, that was, I’d made the right decisions in getting to that bet”. But then during the game, I’d be like, “Oh, okay, I’ll bet on there being a goal in the first half”, and then that wouldn’t come in, and then I’d bet on something else. And by the time the game is over, the money that I’d won from the sensible bet had all been wiped out by all in-play betting at the same time.
The sports bets I would put on or horse bets I would put on would be ridiculous accumulators where I’d put 10p down and win a couple of million pounds, never going to come through in a million years, but that was the type of betting in terms of sports betting and horse betting. That’s how my sort of… because it was too short lived or there was too longer wait for the outcome with the sports betting really, for me. Just waiting three minutes, five minutes for a horse race to finish just wasn’t instant enough for me. Whereas with the slots, it’s very much you press the button and the outcome’s there straightaway.
Because [sports betting] was boring. It sounds really stupid. You’ve got to wait. You can put a bet on and you’ve got to wait and you sit and wait, and wait, and wait. With online slots, it’s that instant-instant satisfaction is press it, what happens? Press it, what happens? I think it was like two and a half seconds between spins now they’ve changed it to. It’s stupid. It’s like two and a half seconds. If you’re betting £10 every time you spin, it’s still like £300. You can literally just sit there and just keep pressing and pressing and pressing and you watch the lights and the noise and just wait for it. It’s lovely but evil at the same time.
Stakes and prizes
Another aspect is how much you can stake and win. The bigger the amount you can stake, and the faster you can keep putting on a new stake on a next gamble, the faster you can lose money. Because getting a big win often means staking more, trying to get a big win could mean bigger losses. People say gambling made them believe that winning was much more likely than it really is, so they kept gambling because if they did, the win would come in.
But now you have this thing where there’s like multipliers on. So you can win, but you can have like a multiplier put onto that number. So say number one comes in normally you’d win X amount of money. But if on some other forms of roulette, it might be the number one comes in but you win 500/1. So there’s even more of – so normally it’d be 35/1, but they put it so that says it says you could get 500/1. So there’s even more of that enticement for some people, I would imagine to think, “Wow, you know, just one more go because I could do that”. And, you know, I’ve had lots of, obviously, I was gambling a lot of the time, for 10 years, so I’ve had lots of wins. And like I said before, you hang on to those… So I guess, in terms of the way they’re designed, that probably is a factor into it. So it makes you think that it’s likely to happen again.
My minimum stake was always £50. I would never go any less because you can go from £50 to £400 within an hour. That’s why betting £10 never interested me because you couldn’t win like hundreds, you could only win like £30 – £40. I always used to bet with £50.
Bonuses and features
People say they are drawn in by bonuses or features that enhance an aspect of play they like. These aspects include the lights and sounds of slots, statistics and information to feel like an expert or features to get a big win.
I always picked the ones that had free spins and bonuses and the most win lines. Always. If it had 100-win lines, that’s what I was playing.
I don’t think there’s any amount of money you can win as a gambler in the height of addiction that you’re going to walk away from. Once you’ve got it, your mentality changes instantly. When I won that £127,000, I thought to myself, Oh, that’s going to drop in again in a minute. So there was these fire bonus things that used to be on website online sites, and you could spend £2000 on one. And that’s what I was doing. And I thought, Well, look how easy that dropped in, I can do that again.