In Gambling Brains, Losing Not Much Different from Winning

| 3/17/2009 10:26:09 AM

Gambling Slot MachineFor gamblers, a near miss at a payoff can trigger the same neurological reaction as winning, according to Science News. Even if the subjects lose money, having two cherries line up in a slot machine, with a third one close by, can activate the same areas of the brain as a win. After a near-miss, the subjects reported that they wanted to gamble more, which could explain some of the allure of gambling. 

Casinos likely know this fact, on some level, and are able to exploit it for profit. Some casinos have come up with advanced techniques to exploit people’s neurological biases and keep them losing money. WNYC’s Radio Lab profiled the efforts of Harrah’s Casino, which uses “loyalty cards” to great success in the casino business. Loyalty card users get a few extra dollars to gamble with, and, in exchange, Harrah’s computers monitor the gambler’s every move, figuring out their innate gambling tendencies. 

The computers are able to deduce the breaking points of individual gamblers. For example, a person might tend to leave the casino after losing $85. Using that knowledge, Harrah’s will send attendants to distract that person with a free meal or tickets to a show after that person loses $72. This tactic eases the pain of loss, and keeps people gambling.

Image by Jeff Kubina, licensed under Creative Commons.

SourceScience NewsRadio Lab 

Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!

Facebook Instagram Twitter

click me