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02/03/2002 No.16
he Good Gambler
The Editor or one of our professional correspondants make regular contributions to coverage of the gambling world.
Email : TheEditor on any subject.
Traditional Roulette
Touch Bet Roulette
The Machines are Coming

The Psychology of Losing - why machines are bad for you

One after another casino organisations have been announcing bigger profits on bigger turnover. All this in a period of supposed slowdown. The reason has been the recent introduction of copious numbers of Roulette Machines.

Gaming board relaxation has meant the introduction of a new way of playing roulette in the casinos of the UK. There are several forms that these things can take, some are automatic touch betting screens that relay the roulette action from a real wheel that is in play with other casino patrons. Others are a purely mechanical system where the machine physically spins a ball in its own wheel, producing a steady stream of action for players to bet on.

Punters have taken to these machines in their hundreds and thousands. Why? Because its a more controllable and personal experince. There is no pressure and no one to hurry you or push you or cheat you.

These are sound reasons for people to elect a machine as their chosen method of punting. These are also all the reasons why players will lose more and far more than they otherwise would if they were to stick to playing "real roulette".

To understand why there are specific 'win' percentages on the different casino games, or for that matter any gambling game, we have to look at the nature of the game. Most current casino games give the house a 16-20% win on the money dropped into the 'drop boxes' at the tables. This means that for every £1000 that the players buy-in at the Blackjack table, the casino will give back about £820 at the cash desk and pocket the rest as profit. This is practically the same for BJ and Roulette and slightly higher for Casino Stud Poker.

At first glance we can see that the house should win because the games are in their favour, 2.7% for roulette, 1-4% for BJ and 2.5-10% for Casino Stud Poker, depending on how people play. But looking at American Roulette (double Zero) which has a house edge of 5.4% we would expect the 'house win' to be double that of English Roulette. In fact its around 26-28%. The fact is that the 'win' is related to the way the game is played as well as the house edge.

Knowing this we can begin to see why the casino 'win' percentage for machine roulette has moved from the 18% of normal roulette to a massive 27%. Not only that but the 'drop' for each casino and the average punter has increased as well. Casinos are pocketing more from each customer in terms of 'win' percentage and in terms of turnover. People are betting more and losing a bigger chunk of it. Some people are playing roulette that never played before.

The reasons are there for all to see. In the physical world of traditional roulette (or any gambling game), there are plenty of obstacles between a punter and the punter losing all their money. There are many stages in the course of play that allow a human to stop playing altogether. For examples : They have chips in their hands and can stop at a certain amount. The table can get busy or slow and put them off, giving an excuse to leave. Dealers can change or other customers can turn up that the punter doesn't want to be near. In fact a whole host of 'exit triggers' will come to a punter and eventually they will take one of them.

With machine roulette all of these have been taken away. Seemingly its for the good of the customer but quite concretely it is bad for them. The unsavoury ruthlessness of the casino staff to take your money in a poor enviroment will eventually deter all but the most hardened of sick gamblers. The machines on the other hand are nice and you should beware. Treat all of them as your enemy. You've been warned!

In stark and bizare contrast to all this, the Greek government is about to ban all electronic amusement and gambling machines, an estimated 100,000 pieces of equipment. It will destroy the arcade business in Greece. Oh dear.

Until next time when I'll be explaining what lovely new games there are just waiting to be ratified by the forward thinking Gaming Board so that they can be introduced into British Casinos.
  ............ seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles swinging and rattling about its strange body.…..............
taken from War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells