How the casino industry uses bogus research to stay rich


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/22/how-the-casino-industry-uses-b.html


#2

Straight out of the Edward Bernays PR BS playbook. Turn over any shady or destructive industry and you’ll find his legacy at work.

The victim-blaming strategy is as disgusting as the researcher’s whoring himself out.


#3

While I’m not thrilled by the phrase, “whoring himself out,” because of its negativity toward sex workers, I agree with your point.


#4

gambling… er, “gaming” the system.


#5

Here’s what I find fascinating about gambling.
My in-laws love to go to the Indian casinos when they drive from AZ to CA to visit us. They are SO frugal about everything. My wife’s mom is so frugal that she freaks out when WE spend money on something. I can’t square that with pissing money away at a casino. Even if it’s 50 or a 100 bucks here and there. My own grandmother was the same way. She could pinch a penny - but she loved to go to Reno and she bought lottery tickets.
None of the above gambled their lives away - I just couldn’t figure out WHY they liked it.
I love poker night at my friend’s house once a month. But it’s not the (small stakes) gambling. It’s the drinking beer and listening to his Grateful Dead DAT’s in the garage with our friends.
I’ve been to Vegas half a dozen times or more in the last decade for conferences, work and to see bands play. We’re going to do it again this weekend to see Widespread Panic. But I have no interest in gambling. I’d rather spend that on a good dinner. Or music.


#6

And this is (one of) the reasons we have such a strong anti-intellectual movement in society. People can easily and somewhat justifiably say the scientists are just shills for big X and dismiss away anything they find doesn’t square with their world view.


#7

Your brain, thankfully for you, isn’t wired such that you have a predilection to addiction to gambling.

You can’t understand it the same way a non-alcoholic cannot understand why an alcoholic cant “just stop drinking.”


#8

That’s an interesting point.

I wonder whether such people accept “scientific” reports that agree with their world view.

For example, anti-vaxxing is almost entirely based on the discredited research of (disbarred doctor) Andrew Wakefield.

Are anti-vaxxers anti-intellectual?


#9

In a world where the Partnership for a Drug Free America is funded by the alcohol and tobacco industries and the sugar industry corrupted research to blame dietary fats for deaths caused by sugar this shouldn’t be surprising.


#10

I would contend yes.

Being a bit reductionist, I think many of them reject the science that shows vaccines are safe and effective because they think the science is biased to protect Big Pharma.


#11

I can understand people who really enjoy poker or other games that involve skill. I love a good card game myself. But of course that’s why casinos will only let you play blackjack for so long if you keep winning.

And I understand that some people get addicted to the high of a small win, especially when it’s an oasis in a desert of losses, and that that addiction can convince otherwise rational individuals to do irrational things in pursuit of it.

Like you though, I don’t understand the appeal of games of chance to people who aren’t actually addicted to them. Such games are literally just a probability spread that favors the player less often than the house, so the money over time inevitably flows in one direction. It’s equivalent flushing money down a toilet that sucks down random sizes of bills and occasionally spits a few back up. Enjoying that is just weird to me. And even if they don’t understand the math, the non-addicts plan to lose money gambling and budget for it, so they clearly understand that they can’t win. I guess they really like the occasional bill that gets coughed back up their way.

The lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math or superstitious or both, and there’s no sugar coating that.

1

But that wasn’t the point he was making. He’s saying he’s mystified by the appeal of gambling to people who aren’t addicted to it. A more apt analogy would be someone dislikes alcohol being unable to grok it’s appeal to responsible drinkers. There’s no mystery to addiction, but there’s no accounting for taste.


#12

Also, one of the largest Republican donors. He bought the US and Guatemala embassy moves in Israel.


#13

I’ve never found it to be too fun myself, but I can certainly understand how people get addicted to the thrill of winning. Since most gambling games are short you can get that thrill several times an hour. It’s really no mystery why people get addicted.

They’re just too damn expensive for me. I’ll spin the nickel slots a few times just to say I did it but in terms of entertainment per dollar arcade machines have them beat by miles. Casinos often tuck a few arcade machines in the back somewhere, probably as a place for parents to stick their kids while they gamble.


#14

I think a lot of gamblers are addicted to that thrill of winning, or at least the anticipation of winning. But I have met people who claim they win a lot of money gambling. They justify their behavior because they believe they come out ahead. I think they have just erased out of their memory all the times they’ve lost, and they sure haven’t kept a ledger showing a net gain. Statistically if you play a game with a house margin, like the slots, the longer you play the more certain you are to lose money.


#15

My book club went to Vegas and spent about 12$ total on gambling, quarter slots mostly, and over 8,000.00$ on shoes. (We are big nordic ladies with big feet, and it turns out there are a lot of drag performers in Vegas who also have big feet. The shoe situation was really marvelous.)


#16

Best post of the day! :grinning:


#17

I have no belief I’ve come out ahead. My guess is that over my lifetime, I’ve probably lost a total of $500-$750 (net) gambling. I probably drank back half of those losses in beer. And I’ve had a couple of fun days where I won a few hundred bucks. It’s lost it’s appeal more lately, but I’ll still bet $20 or $50 or something when I’m in Vegas. But I don’t deem it anything other than the expense.

Also, when the lottery is this absurdly large, it’s worth it to me to put $10 – I’ve probably spent $200 in Lottery tickets over the course of 30 years – might have won back a grand total of $25. It’s mathematical idiocy. But it affords a small bit of daydreaming that, to me, is different in kind. To me, no more or less harmful than blowing $10 on App Store games or a movie.

That said, if it all went away tomorrow, society would be better for it.


#18

Ah, the sweet smell of positive externalities and social surplus!


#19

This whole video reeks of false equivalence. To my knowledge, there’s no scientific consensus on the origins of gambling addiction for NCRG to be covering up; and there’s substantial evidence for comorbidity between gambling addiction and other addictive behaviors, it isn’t just excuse-making or victim-blaming.

Anyway, if you really want to prevent exploitation of gambling addicts, the casino industry isn’t the first place to start. State lotteries are far more damaging, and prey on those least likely to be able to afford the losses. There’s your “crack cocaine”. I have no trouble believing the idea that there’s no relationship between prevalence of gambling addiction to distance from a casino, and that’s because gambling is available at every corner store in most states.

Not that casinos don’t need more regulation - and more intelligent regulation - but while the lotteries exist, impact of those regulations is going to be minimal.


#20

But that wasn’t the point he was making. He’s saying he’s mystified by the appeal of gambling to people who aren’t addicted to it.

Those people go for the same reason addicts go (the “action”), but they can stop.

They take their $100 or $200, turn it in to $1000 or $0 or somewhere in between, but when they’re tired or when they have to go, they leave, with whatever is left.

An addict will always leave with $0. (Or, most likely with -$1000, since they blew through the original $100 and got several cash advances.)

But as to “why” is it fun (or addicting) to win $1000 from your original $100, if even briefly? Dopamine?