Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas

By Natasha Dow Schüll | Go to book overview

3
PROGRAMMING CHANCE:
The Calculation of Enchantment

I decided to go to school to learn slot machines—how to take them
apart, and how to build them: the components, the wires, all the little
parts. I became a slot machine mechanic. I was really good at the
electronics, the math. I learned so much. I could take those things
apart and put them back together in my sleep. I had the highest
graduating score that school ever had.

I thought that learning how the machines worked would demystify
them and that they wouldn’t hold such intrigue for me anymore,
because I would understand how their guts worked—really under-
stand. But the truth is, even after taking them apart and putting them
back together again, you still don’t know how they work. The one
thing I never built was the chips. There’s that one little mystery chip
in there that nobody explains to you, and it’s what spins the reels and
shuffles the cards.

My playing never eased up at all. At the school they used to have a
couple of machines set up and I’d play those on coffee breaks. I got a
night job with a company that built slot machines. I would assemble
parts for the machines, then I’d go up the street and gamble all during
lunch hour, on the same machines I was building.

—Rose

-76-

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