Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas

By Natasha Dow Schüll | Go to book overview

10
FIX UPON FIX:
Recipes for Regulating Risk

In 2004, five years after I heard the Australian firm Aristocrat’s Stuart Bull speak of the market’s growing “tolerance for technology” in the conference rooms of the Las Vegas Convention Center, I heard another Australian gambling executive speak of a growing “intolerance” for his industry’s technologies.1 “Australian products are the best in the world technically—we lead the market in games. But we also lead in worry over what’s good for people.” He cautioned his North American colleagues: “Beware—there is real discussion in my country about slowing down reel speeds, making machines shut down after a certain period of time, screens that pop up and say Okay, you’ve played for two hours now, you really need to have a think about whether you want to continue to play …” Laughter rippled through the audience. “I’m not joking,” he protested facetiously, “we’re actually going to make the machine shut down for ten minutes, run messages across the screen every ten minutes saying Gam bling can be dangerous, you really should have a pause …”

The amusement of the American audience notwithstanding, an independent federal commission in Australia five years earlier had resulted in several legislative acts seeking to mitigate gambling addictions by restricting or minimizing the use of certain features on slot machines.2 Five years later, a second governmental commission would produce a twovolume, 1,110-page report recommending an extensive suite of adjustments

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