I thought I’d give my opinions on the discussions going on today about High Stakes Gambling Machines in bookies. Now slots aren’t usually my thing but like any gambler out there I’ve spent a lot of time playing on them and know a lot of staff in casinos, bookies and online casinos who all regularly talk about them. From a gambling stance I’m all in favour of people being able to gamble, its a matter of choice but like anything there is a time and a place. With my work I travel extensively in the UK so I’ve played on High Stakes Slots in every kind of environment including Bookies, Casinos and even Motorway Services. What amazes me is the difference in experience between these different type of locations.
By far the worst experience I have of electronic gambling has been in Bookies. When I’ve been staying over in towns without a casino then Bookies are really the only source of social gambling. What I have found is the players in bookies tend to be far less chatty, more angry and generally less well informed than the players you find in casinos. The frightening thing about these High Stakes Gambling Machines is that the payout percentages are horrifically low meaning that it’s almost impossible to walk away with a profit. They also employ far more “gamification” to mask the fact that tthe player is gambling. These cartoon styled games seem to have players permanently hypnotised.
I wouldn’t like to total up the hours I’ve spent in bookies but it’s well into the 1000’s and I can say hand on heart I have never seen a member of staff approach a player and warn them about their addictive playing and excessive losses – the only time staff ever seem to talk to players is to offer them another drink.
High Stakes Slots (motorway services)
Now I have to admit this is an area I really don’t understand. How these High Stakes Slots can be placed in locations where there are no permanent staff and young kids and teenagers is beyond me. Much like the high stakes gambling machines in bookies these machines operate at very low payout precentages (usually around 86%) making it very difficult for a player to win. They are preying on the fact that people visiting motorway services are often suffering from tiredness and are vulnerable to the draw of the hypnotic effect of the slot machines.
Without any permanent staff there really is no protection for players, the absence of regulars makes it even worse that there is often no-one to break the trance that these machines put players into and any visit to the motorway services will regularly see players making the regular shuffle between gambling machine and cash machine until their available funds are exhausted.
These operate in a similar fashion to the High Stakes Slots in motorway services albeit with a higher Jackpot. Payout percentages in casinos are universally higher than in bookies or motorway services, typically in excess of 92%. For me the biggest difference though is the amount of staff who very quickly become to know you and the amount of players who actually talk to each other. WHat I can categorically say is that in a real casino enviornment I see people who care, whether it’s staff or other players there is always someone to give you a poke if you get carried away.
Now don’t get me wrong, casinos have their fair share of addicts but from what I see every day in my travels there is a real difference in the mood of the players and that comes down to the fact that players have a much better support network and that they don’t generally sustain the kind of rapid losses that players see in services and bookies.
Online Slot Machines
Interestingly the one place where I have found the most interest in my gambling welfare has been with online casinos. Maybe it’s part of their regulation or maybe it’s just down to the fact that staff can talk to you without fear of violence or confrontation. What ever it is I regularly get asked about my spending habits and get offered help – not that I’ve ever taken them up on it but I have to say it is nice to be asked. One online casino that I signed up to at lotterycasino.net actually contacted me after my first deposit and gave me an quick interview about what my spending habits would be and offered help on setting up daily limits – something that I have never been asked in any land based venue!?
Although the thought of gambling from my living room still scares me a little I can see that it’s far easier for casinos to monitor a player’s activity and step in if they get carried away or break away from their usual spending habits.
Should High Stakes Machines be banned?
In my opinion, no. Machines in motorway services – definitely. Machines in bookies, I think there is much that could be done with regulation to make these machines much safer – personally I don’t think it’s the machines that are the problem but instead the staff and the venues. If it was up to me we would have more casinos and get rid of this type of gambling in any other kind of venue. With online it appears that managain players is actually easier, we just need to make sure that the correct legislation is in place to ensure casinos meet their opbligations to their players. I mean, if a bank misadvises and makes you lose your money then they are under a legal obligation to ensure you are fully re-embursed – why not employ a similar rule in casinos so that if a casino cannot show “reasonable attempts” to help players then they take on a responsibility for that player’s losses?