The masses love those smaller and more frequent wins! In fact, all organisms gravitate to a faster and more frequent intermittent pattern of reinforcement. It’s the win itself that generates the adrenalin, not so much the amount of the pot. Slots that can be manipulated by the player to spit out wins more often, are the magnets for larger bets.
Basic Slot Machines
Toward the end of the 1800s, a San Francisco car mechanic by the name of Charles Fey invented a useful tool: The Slot Machine. That invention has provided enjoyable entertainment for millions upon millions of players worldwide.
Before technology jumped into the act, the slot machine had three reels. The pictures found on the reels consisted of hearts, spades, diamonds and cracked Liberty Bells. The original structure has remained pretty much the same to the present time.
Along comes the advancement of technology and we see sophisticated gaming additions to beloved slots. While these changes do not alter the basic structure of slot machines, they do offer additional options to gamers.
Several researchers have been studying the effects of technological advancements in the slot machine. Their findings indicate that extra slots options may entice bigger bets, persistent play and larger losses.
Among those additional slot machine characteristics is the multiplier potential. Player options are contained within the multiplier potential. One such option is the ability to bet multiple coins for each spin, raising the possible payout. The three components of the multiplier potential in Australian slot machines include: Machine cash denomination, be it the 1-cent slot machine or $1 machine; number of pay lines being played simultaneously; and an element referred to as the wager multiplication. The first factor, monetary denomination, is set by the casino and prominently displayed with neon signs. Therefore, gamers know whether they are playing in the nickel slot machine area or quarter machine location. As the denomination enlarges, the payback percentage follows suit.
The Liberty Bell of San Francisco, and all slots manufactured for over 50 years afterwards, contained little or no choice as to the cost of a spin. Today, the nickel and quarter slots have a payback percentage of 88% - 91%. The slots that are $5 and more have a payback percentage of 95% - 99%. This is a major incentive to play the costlier slot machines with a potential for bigger losses and faster depletion of bankrolls. On the other side of the coin, the higher slot denominations have a greater potential for an increased number of wins.
Throwing into the mix a 21st Century choice in the number of pay lines, the player can go after an increased frequency of wins through the use of a maximum number of pay lines. The more pay lines, the higher the possible frequency of reinforcement events.
The stake size is determined by the player. Once gamers choose the slot denomination, they exercise their choice regarding the number of pay lines. Players then proceed to select their bet multiplier. If a player picks the $5 slot machine, with eight pay lines and a multiplier of four, the stake size of that player is 5 x 8 x 4, totaling $160. The maximum stake for any slot machine is the denomination times the maximum number of pay lines times the maximum wager multiplier.
Gamers can now decide to maximize their stake by utilizing the increased multiplier potential of slots. The higher the stake, the larger the possible win. Along with this potential benefit comes the detriment of raising the speed of lost bankrolls. It is this last factor that has resulted in New South Wales, Australia legislation limiting maximum slots stakes to $10.
People in general seek out positive reinforcement for their actions: The greater the frequency of that reinforcement, the greater the tendency to continue the action. Multiplier-potential options such as the number of pay lines, directly impact the frequency of wins. The increased frequency of success acts as a magnet for continued play. Going a step further, researchers have speculated that the multiplier potential is an extra slots characteristic that was specifically developed for the purpose of enticing the gamer to wager higher stakes over an increased amount of playing time. This may result in problematic gambling behavior for the unsuspecting gamer.
Adjusting the Technical Characteristics Downward
Two slot machine studies out of Australia decreased the technical aspects of today’s slot machines. Those technical elements include the reel speed, bill acceptor and multiplier potential. Slowing the speed of the reel, limiting the bill acceptor to $20 bills and decreasing the multiplier potential for a maximum stake of $1, did not affect player enjoyment. Reducing the multiplier potential alone resulted in fewer bets, smaller losses and shorter playing sessions. Two further benefits achieved from a decreased multiplier potential, involve reduced use of cigarettes and alcohol during slot machine play.
Average Stake Size
Research has further shown that the machine denomination and the number of pay lines offered have the greatest impact on the size of average slots wagers. Thus the bet multiplier does not appear to manipulate the average bet.
In terms of predicting the average wager, there is a direct correlation established between that average bet and the denomination. To a lesser degree, a correlation exists between the maximum number of pay lines provided by the slot machine and the wager size.
Affect of Pay Lines on Continued Slots Play
Persistent slots play has been shown to be directly related to the number of maximum pay lines. That correlation can be explained through the increase in win frequency with an increase in the amount of pay lines. The psychological factor behind that correlation involves the known preference for repeated positive reinforcement, even when the action is detrimental to the person.
The bet multiplier influences the size of the win, yet it has no impact on the frequency of the reward. The bet multiplier likewise has no affect upon the bet size or persistency of play. This tends to confirm that gamers in general prefer more frequent wins, even if the potential size of those pots is smaller.
With the technology of the multiplier potential in use, simple, enjoyable and entertaining slots have evolved into a more complicated species of gaming. One result of this advanced technology is increased problems in gaming behavior to the ultimate detriment of the player.