Join Curt Frye for an in-depth discussion in this video What you should know, part of The Data Science of Gaming and Fantasy Sports.
- [Instructor] Thanks again for your interest in this course. Before I get started, I'd like to give you some important information. Dealing with gambling, or gaming, as the gaming industry prefers to call it, is a bit of a fraught subject. And the reason is that gambling can be addictive. So before I begin, I wanted to give you important information about gambling and how it affects individuals. Gambling is a product of both math and psychology. In the book Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, MIT lecturer Natasha Dow Schull gave some important information about gambling, especially video poker and slot machines.
The first is simply repetition and rapidity of play. Slot machines and video poker let you wager up to 600 times per hour. That's 10 times a minute. Players, as described in her book, tend to get into a machine zone where nothing else matters. You don't notice what's going on around you. You might not even hear your phone ring. And also, these machines are built around a variable reward schedule, the same way that you might have seen in the classic rat experiments done by B.F. Skinner.
In the Skinner box, a rat has a lever and it can dispense a food pellet. If the rat taps the lever and a food pellet comes out every time, there's no effect on its psychology. It knows that whenever it's hungry, tap the lever, get a pellet, and it can eat. The problem comes for a variable reward schedule. If the rat doesn't know how many times it needs to press the lever to get the next food pellet, then it becomes desperate and it starts pressing the lever over and over and over, even if no pellets come out.
It's a compelling experiment. Now obviously not everyone who gambles becomes addicted. So is the issue with a small number of gambling addicts? And of course the answer is both yes and no. Problem gamblers account for as little as 30 percent or as much as 60% of casino revenue. And that is according to studies that Professor Schull cites in her book. And of course individuals can be more susceptible to addiction than others, but one important point to remember is that experiences can be designed to be more addictive than others.
And when you have a variable reward schedule, the danger of addiction is very real. The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version Five, which was released in 2013, redefines gambling disorder, which was a separate disorder, as a type of addiction disorder. And it's defined using the phrase here. Persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as indicated by the individual exhibiting four (or more) of the following in a 12-month period.
And those symptoms are Preoccupation tolerance and loss of control, Withdrawal escape and chasing, and Lying risking relationships and Requiring a monetary bail-out. If you're worried about gambling addiction, please speak with a licensed psychiatrist, or psychologist, or counselor who is licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and get more information about this. Now the severity of the addiction depends on the number of factors present. It's mild if there are four or five, moderate if six or seven are present, and severe if eight or nine are present.
In the DSM IV-R, which was the revised version of the DSM IV, they had another element called Illegal Acts. That was dropped because it tended to not happen very often, and it tended to co-occur with several of the other elements as well. The count used to be five, but now it has been reduced to four. And also, the manual indicates there should be no diagnosis if behaviors are better explained by a manic episode.
So that means that gambling would be more of a symptom of another primary disorder and would be secondary to it. So, as always, have fun but be careful. And before I go, I want to give you a very important piece of information. If you think you might have a problem, or if you have a friend who might have a problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER. That is 1-800-426-2537 for help. I want you to be safe. I want you to have fun.
But if you think that gambling might be a problem for you, get help immediately.