In many pokie clubs across Australia, poker machines are fitted with technology that allow them to display pop-up warnings about how much time and money players are spending. This is meant to be a help solution that encourages players to gamble responsibly, but it seems to be doing more harm than good.
A recent experiment by researchers at Central Queensland University to find out just how useful these messages are. The research team took a look at the gaming habits of 200 volunteers in order to evaluate how effective this technology is as a harm minimisation measure – and, found that pop-up gaming messages can actually encourage players to spend more.
Tess Armstrong, who worked on the study, described the process:
“They could gamble however long they wanted until they chose to stop or ran out of credits. After a set number of spins, one of nine pop-up messages appeared with prompts such as: “Gambling at lower speeds leads to greater enjoyment. Did you know your play speed has increased? You’re playing at similar speeds to most problem gamblers.”
One of the most interesting findings from the study is that women who took part in the trial were more likely to bet more after being exposed to the warnings. They would either increase their rate of betting or wager more persistently. Both options would end up with them losing more money.
The results varied for different demographics. After seeing the pop-up warnings, older people made smaller wagers while men slowed down the rate at which they spun the reels.
These are very interesting findings, and they open up many more research opportunities. Future studies will look at the content of the messages and how they are delivered so gaming experts can understand how to really utilise this technology to its fullest potential.