Slot Machines – Expensive Entertainment

A lot of similar character traits can be found among financially-successful people. Many are obvious, such as frugality, living beneath your means, consistent saving and investing, modest cars, etc. A less obvious trait is that they tend not to have expensive hobbies or vices, and keep their household debt at a minimum. This article could offend many readers because if I mention your vice, you are bound to feel defensive. Therefore, I will only mention one… slot machines (although you could make the easy mental leap to gambling in general and state lotteries).

Gambling – the new solution to state budget deficits:

When I was growing up, it seemed like you had to go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City if you wanted to use slot machines or gamble in general. Today, no matter where you live, there is likely a casino within a few hours, if not right down the street. Casino gambling is now available in at least 38 states. These states use the revenue from gambling to help solve their budget deficits.

There are twice as many slot machines nationwide as ATM’s!

The main attraction at these gambling halls is slot machines—there are close to 850,000 of them in the United States, twice the number of ATMs. Americans spend more money on slots than on movies, major league baseball, and theme parks…combined. This seems hard to believe to someone who does not gamble or play slots. However, it has been well-documented that these games are the most addictive form of gambling.

When I was a kid, gamblers would pull a handle and hope for three of a kind. Modern slot machines are like high-tech video games. Machine manufacturers have stimulation, motivation, and entertainment down to a science. You can play dozens of lines at once, and instead of pulling a handle, you bet by pushing buttons, which means you can play hands much faster. The most popular game is penny slots. Players feel comfortable because they are betting small amounts, but it adds up when you are able to play up to 1,200 rounds an hour. The large number of hands also makes it unlikely to beat the odds, which are always in the houses favor.

Psychology of slot machines: making you feel like you are winning when you’re not:

Researchers from the University of Waterloo found that the new machines can make gamblers feel like they are winning, even when they’re not. The gambler almost always gets some money back: If he puts in a dollar, he might get back 50 cents. But the sounds and flickering lights trick his brain into feeling like he came out ahead.

States that have legalized gambling argue that the people who lose all of their savings would have gambled anyway, but the money would have gone to another state. It is better to keep the money in our state and use the tax revenue to lower property taxes, just as one example. The research shows that approximately three times as many people become addicted to gambling when it is legal and available in their own state.

I am not one to judge people for how they spend their money. Folks should spend their hard-earned dough on whatever makes them the happiest. The only point I want to make is playing these games can be a very expensive form of entertainment and dangerous to your goals for creating and preserving wealth. Are gambling costs factored into your retirement budget? Also, if you blow all your money on slot machines, you won’t have anything left to bet on football.