How electronic gambling machines work

How electronic gambling machines work

Charles Livingstone

This webinar outlines the design characteristics of electronic gambling machines (EGMs) so as to inform interventions to reduce the harm from EGM use.

This webinar was held on Thursday 13th July 2017

Poker machines (also known as pokies, electronic gambling machines, EGMs, or slots) are the main source of gambling revenue in Australia, accounting for around $14 billion in annual losses in clubs, pubs and casinos, equal to 62% of Australia's gambling spend. They are also thought to be the main source of gambling harm, with as many as 75% of 'problem gamblers' using EGMs.

EGMs have been characterised as producing 'Addiction by Design'. It is the 'structural characteristics' of EGMs that form the building blocks of their design, the features that make them habit forming and, in a significant number of cases, harm producing.

This webinar describes how EGMs work, and discusses their structural characteristics. It also identifies and explains the psychological principles that underpin their operation, and the many design aspects of contemporary machines that make use of these underpinning principles.

The webinar will provide policy makers, students, researchers or practitioners in the field, and other interested people, with an account of how EGMs do what they do, what their design entails, and why they have become Australia's major source of gambling revenue, and harm. It will also assist and support discussion and debate about the nature of interventions and modifications that may assist in reducing harm. 

Read more about how EGMs work: How electronic gambling machines work: Structural characteristics

About the presenters

Dr Charles Livingstone is Senior Lecturer in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University.