In the film Ka-Ching! we all discovered some shocking truths. Poker machines are intentionally designed to mislead and deceive us in every way they can. It's time the regulators of these machines (such as the VCGLR and NSW OLGR) told us the truth, right down to which machines in which clubs, pubs and casinos have these features.
Tell us which machines provide intermittent reinforcement? Do they all?
Pigeon and rat experiments in the 1950s found that providing an occasional, unpredictable reward for pressing a lever resulted in the rats obsessively pressing the lever, hoping for food. This behavioural psychology of 'intermittent reinforcement' also applies to humans and is the foundation of what makes poker machines addictive.
Tell us which machines have weighted reels? Do they all?
The poker machines of 2015 have virtual ‘reels’ of apparently spinning symbols, which remind us of older ‘one armed bandits’ that had physical reels. However, today’s computer programmed machines are designed to mislead users by ‘weighting’ the virtual reels so that ‘near misses’ appear more frequently than they would have by real chance.
Tell us which machines create fake "near misses"? Do they all?
Near misses are designed to give users the impression that they almost won. In fact they are no ‘closer’ to a win than any other push of the button; this ‘feature’ is designed to give users false hope that if they keep gambling, they are more likely to win.
Tell us which machines present losses disguised as wins? Do they all?
A gambler places a bet of $5 using multiple lines and hits the button. Whilst they don’t hit the ‘jackpot’, they do get a match of symbols on one line and are told that they’ve ‘won’ $3. Lights flash and applause rings out from the machine – but in truth the gambler just lost $2.
What is each machine's house take?
Every machine is designed to guarantee the owner a minimum 'take'. In Ka-ching! a game designer explained how this can be set to, in his words "shear the sheep" or "slaughter the sheep". Regulators set a maximum house take, now it's time to disclose the exact amount fleeced by each and every machine.