Gambling Companies

Design of bets and games

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.

It was the machines really. The fixed odds betting terminals. It completely changed the playing field. It was, like I was saying before, rather than sort of having one horse race every 10 minutes or having a football match that lasts 90 minutes or whatever it was like, it was instant. It was every 20 seconds you could spin the roulette wheel and it was so addictive and it really spiralled. And I sort of lost interest in sports betting then, to be honest. I very rarely did any. It was all about roulette or slot machines or whatever.


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.

Yeah, it’s a good question because like I said, it kind of went from being something that was fun to then just… and what I can’t get my head around. And I said this before about not seeing money. If I was to get £500 in my hand and put that onto a roulette wheel, I’d probably go No, what am I doing? I couldn’t see the money, but I think it was just the ease of it, winning like that, you know, on a spin. And it was kind of advertised, they gave me a lot of free bets and they did ask me to come back and the first £50 is free, but then obviously you were tied in with stuff like that. But I think is just the attraction of, I think it was the ease of winning. The buzz I suppose to some degree. Then I suppose when you’re locked into that and you’re betting big sums of money, it’s hard to come back because all you can think about is how am I going to get that back? How am I going to get this money back? I can’t just bet a tenner. So that’s why the bets become silly, you know, and that’s when. Well, what I spoke about before is the ease of how easy it was for me to do that.


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.

I think at the time, it was just a novelty. It was like nothing that had come before. It was probably something I had always dreamed of being able to take other people’s bets. I was attracted by all the mechanics of it, sitting on a website and all the different sports, just being able to go from one tap to another to keep track of your electronically what you’re winning, what you’re losing, what you’ve laid all your active bets. It just really appealed to me at the time as a more imaginative way of gambling. It was attractive to me rather than just going in to your bookmakers, putting down your money, bet each way on a horse or a lucky 15 or a fixed odds coupon. This new way of gambling was really, really kind of floated my boat. Especially the in-play element as well, I really liked that, that you could– I got really into it that– wasted way too much intelligence in doing it, but if I had backed a couple of horses in a sprint race for example as soon as the straight from the off you could put in-play bets 100/1 on to lay off or 105 as it was on the betting exchange, 20/1 on. If your horse got picked in the shadow of the post you’re going to get that money back, it’s like an insurance policy. All those kind of permutations and the possibilities. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t because what quickly became clear in the betting exchange and the nature of in-play was that happened quite often, there’s horses that could be out to some even 1000/1 could win because some people’s computers were quicker than others and you had to have good technology for that to work. It just took betting to a whole new level for me. I think the marketing was very clever at the time. It was built as a thinking man’s way of betting and the odds were better too. They didn’t take taxes in the way they do now either. It was tax-free at the time. They did take a small commission. It was easy to get your money in and out.


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