One-armed bandits
August 11, 2014 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Slot machines and video gambling were once marginal to the success of casinos — but nowadays, they account for up to 85 percent of the gaming industry's profits. And casinos have devised a dizzying array of strategies to make these machines as addictive as possible, from the elaborate algorithms beneath the hood to the position of the armrests.
posted by Chrysostom (38 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I love blackjack - it's such a fun, party atmosphere. And if you know what you're doing, you can play for a few hours and not spend too much money. And then I walk by the slot machines and it makes me really sad.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:13 AM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

So, not the mathematical abstraction, then?
posted by Going To Maine at 7:31 AM on August 11, 2014

Having just returned from a beach week, I can say that the arcade industry has learned from this as well. The Wizard of Oz is to coin pushers as modern slots are to slot machines as Candy Crush is to iPod gaming, i.e. the most relentlessly efficient Skinner box experience possible without attaching electrodes directly to the brain.

Frequent freebies, constant motion, the feeling of winning even while you're not, medium and high-value targets to shoot for, and an audiovisual barrage that will have FOLLOW FOLLOW FOLLOW FOLLOW FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD punching your lobes hours after leaving the arcade.
posted by delfin at 7:42 AM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

That was interesting.

I've only been to Vegas once, and I'd never played slots anywhere else, so I wanted to give it a shot. So I went down to the casino in our hotel and I see that there are a million different kinds of slot machines and they all see to be different games -- you win for different outcomes, it's not just that the symbols are different, as I had expected.

So I go up to one of the waitresses and I say "Excuse me, can you tell me where I can see the odds of winning different prizes on each of the different machines?" Cause you know, any time you run so much as a raffle at a daycare you have to tell people the odds of winning, right? Well, I'm sure you're all laughing at me for being so naive and the idea was so foreign to the waitress that she didn't even seem to know what I was talking about. I had to explain it and then when I explained it she said that they didn't do that.

That's nuts. Every other form of gambling has to tell you the odds. It seems like telling people the odds of winning would go a long way towards preventing gambling addiction, as would requiring the machines to give an "overall, this spin you won/lost X" that must be on the screen as big and as long and with as much noise as the "you won 3 lines" message." Those seem like simple reforms and given that they're just giving people information, they're hard to oppose without obvious disingenuousness.

Anyway, I did play slots. I played on a poppit based machine because poppit is a big thing with a few of my relatives and so I wanted a pic of me playing that machine. I started with $1 and bet a penny at a time, one line at a time. I figured I would lose my dollar and saw no reason to speed up the process by betting more or multiple lines. At one point I "won" the chance to play an actual game of poppit -- which I won, because poppit is a thing in my family --and I won an 84:1 payout. Then I left because I knew I wasn't going to do any better than that. So in the end, I left with $2.12.

Also, I left because I itched to hit the button again and it scared me. I knew I was just giving my money away, and yet I itched. I've never played slots again since that day. What terrifying, life-ruining horrors those machines are.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:49 AM on August 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

delfin: Frequent freebies, constant motion, the feeling of winning even while you're not, medium and high-value targets to shoot for, and an audiovisual barrage that will have FOLLOW FOLLOW FOLLOW FOLLOW FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD punching your lobes hours after leaving the arcade.

Yeah, I wasn't at all shocked to see video gambling machines borrowing tactics from conventional video games, but seeing the games borrow from slot machines has been a bit of a surprise. The author of the Dead Homer Society blog (previously) has written an e-book talking about how The Simpsons: Tapped Out is more like a video slot machine than an actual game. He's releasing one chapter a week on his blog, and though I'm a few chapters behind, it's an interesting and somewhat skeptical look at how this convergence is happening from the video game side.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:03 AM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I played 5 bucks at Atlantic City in the slot machines and it was actually hard to lose it all. It took far longer than I wanted and by then end I was completely creeped out but then Animal Learning was my second highest university grade. I could feel myself becoming a rat.
posted by srboisvert at 8:06 AM on August 11, 2014

I tried a few slots in Vegas, but the only one I had any real luck on was one of the old-fashioned ones with the lever. (They had a few of them stuck in the hallway between the main casino and the area with the buffet and sports-betting.)

The real mind-blower was the slot machines in the pharmacy.

Anyway, I did play slots. I played on a poppit based machine because poppit is a big thing with a few of my relatives and so I wanted a pic of me playing that machine.

I tried to take a picture in the casino and security was all over me like white on rice.

(Grandma gave me a fiver to play for her, so I played it in a Sinatra-themed machine I found, because she was Dean Martin's biggest fan. Whe I told Mom they wouldn't let me take a picture, she said, "Good! She can't stand Frank Sinatra because she thought he was such a bad influence on Dean!")
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:38 AM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I go to trade shows in Vegas. I stay for several days and I do not gamble a dime. It doesn't look like "games" to me. It looks like mechanized processing of raw material for money, then the slag or ash is expelled from the building when it no longer contains anything of value.
posted by Repack Rider at 8:40 AM on August 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

I read the book this article was based on and found it very interesting. The bigger point I took from it was a vivid example the radical unfairness of the modern market.
“The player-centric design of gambling technology and its adaptive attunement to consumers’ desires, affects, and bodies is neither traditionally exploitative—for its instrumental use of others is collusive rather than coercive, and does not engender alienation—nor symmetrical. The respective contributions that gamblers and machines bring to the collusion are not equal; on the contrary, an apparent alignment between “what players want” and the methods of productivity and efficiency at work in the gambling industry obscures radically different ends.
For extreme machine gamblers, the experience of play is an end in itself—an “autotelic” zone beyond value as such, in that “no other reward than continuing the experience is required to keep it going.”78 Conversely, for the gambling industry the zone is a means to an end; although it carries no value in and of itself, it is possible to derive value from it. [...]
“In effect, gamblers’ drive to remain indefinitely suspended in the zone is rerouted, via the technological detours of the gambling industry, toward a destination of complete depletion. “The more you manage to tweak and customize your machines to fit the player,” Sylvie Linard of Cyberview advised her colleagues of player-centrism, “the more they play to extinction; it translates into a dramatic increase in revenue.”80 The point of “extinction” to which she referred is the point at which player funds run out.”
posted by shothotbot at 8:42 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been to a casino exactly once, lost $10 in quarters on the slots in about five minutes, max.

Needless to say I am never entering a casino ever again.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:42 AM on August 11, 2014

Every other form of gambling has to tell you the odds

Perhaps in other countries or states but not in Las Vegas. The gaming laws do dictate what the minimum payout of a slot machine needs to be, and I believe they also have to have a help screen (or something on the glass) that shows the possible ways to win and what the payout is, but the probability of a specific win doesn't need to be listed.

In fact, you can have multiple copies of the same game right next to each other that can pay out different overall return percentages. As long as the sum total of all the slots in the casino AVERAGE to the percentage dictated by law, the casino is okay. Casinos regularly set the penny slots to the shittiest payout and the high-denomination slots to the highest payout and come out just fine.

Stick to table games (except the new wacky ones) where you can figure out the odds pretty easily.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:47 AM on August 11, 2014

I'm like a lot of people for whom gambling is no fun at all. Winning a hundred bucks wouldn't be enough to get really excited about. But losing a hundred bucks would be enough to ruin my week, let alone my day.
posted by Flexagon at 8:48 AM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

> Frequent freebies, constant motion, the feeling of winning even while you're not...

> Yeah, I wasn't at all shocked to see video gambling machines borrowing tactics from conventional video games, but seeing the games borrow from slot machines has been a bit of a surprise.

And now shothotbot's quote really shows there's probably a whole FPP to be made about the parallels between the addictiveness of games-of-chance and the addictiveness of video games, and what these two industries have learned from each other.

From Zynga to WoW to Kim Kardashian, there are some exploitative tricks to mess with what people consider escapism and meaningful progress in their escapes, and somehow the gameplay itself becomes a means to its own end. Not unlike pulling the arm of a slot-machine.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 8:51 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since I never expect to win anything ( the money yu are playing with is money that is gone the instant yu decide to gamble with it.) my goal is always to create the biggest, loudest, most light-flashing racket I can - say load up four nickel slot machines on a max bet of dollar and set them off at once.

I've had good success with this.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I got an A in discrete probability, so is it any surprise that I also find no enjoyment in 'gaming'?
posted by mikelieman at 9:58 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I went to Atlantic City two years ago to stay at a casino hotel featuring an evening performance of a comedian I like a lot.

Of course, to get from our room to the theatre there, I had to snake my way through the casino. So, at about 6:30 pm I noticed an older woman on the end of one of the rows of slot machines, with a full ashtray, some kind of soft drink, and a container of quarters. That machine had 100% of her attention.

The show ends around 9:30 pm, and as we make our way back through the casino to go to our room, I notice that nothing has changed and the same woman was in the same seat. Still riveted.

I'm a very early riser, and was up the next morning before 4 am. I am worthless until I get my first cup of coffee, so I headed out immediately to find one. In the course of my search, once again I had to snake through the casino.

The same woman was still in the same seat, playing the same machine.

That's one reason why I don't gamble.
posted by imjustsaying at 10:01 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

What's funny is that back in the 70s, it was possible to make money on the slots!

Seems impossible but someone I knew in my school named Lee Jeff Bell wrote his graduate (mathematics) thesis on it. I was skeptical till I read it...

Here's how it worked!

For each model of slot machine, there were only a fixed number of arrangements of symbols on wheels that were ever manufactured. Given a specific machine, you can work out exactly what is on each wheel after a fairly small number of spins, even if you didn't already have a list of wheels you'd seen before.

Based on the wheels, you can then work out your expected cost of playing the machine per spin - he actually calculated it per hour, so he could isolate e.g. $50/hour machines and $20/hour machines, as in "a machine that costs you $20 an hour to play", given a "standard play rate".

So you're still talking about "losing money" EXCEPT that many slots had (and have) a progressive jackpot over all the similar machines on top of the regular payouts.

If the jackpot got big enough, there was a point when the expected value of the jackpot exceeded the cost of playing the machine. In his paper, he worked out that about 5% of the machines would make $10 an hour or better.

He went to Vegas to test this out for his thesis - he was nervous because the actual pay-off is a Poisson distribution which has a very long tail (i.e. quite a lot of the time you end up playing for a long time before getting the payoff). But, as the opening of his thesis said, it ended up being an unfair test because he won the progressive jackpot long before the statistics predicted he should have... :-)

Unfortunately, this strategy is no longer possible, for many reasons, nearly all digital....
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:02 AM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I stayed in Punta del Este at a Casino hotel. Played the slots one night. Lots of noise, lots of numbers. Lost like US$10, didn't really see the point. I sincerely doubt I could ever become addicted to something like that.
posted by signal at 10:04 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was recently peer-pressured into my first visit to a casino. I didn't play slots but tried roulette with a friend. I was pretty rational about it but there was a period where I saw him win several times in a row while I lost. For that period I was struck with a fallacy: "He's winning and I'm not! Both our bets are equally random so I should keep betting to ensure I catch up!"

My indignation ran out when my petty cash did. I snagged a drink and reflected on my misunderstanding of luck.
posted by Monochrome at 10:10 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

The creepy thing about it is that they pillage popular franchises. If you like a movie or a TV show, chances are there's a slot machine of it. Last year my girlfriend and I went to Vegas and in every casino we saw matching slot machines — one bank of four for The Hangover, one bank of four for Sex and the City — and each would let you play as a different character from the franchise.

Earlier this year we went back to find that there are machines based on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and The Wizard of Oz. These are all superficially different but identical at their core; get three [wonkavators/proton packs/flux capacitors/ruby slippers] in a row and begin the [chocolate river tour/venkman psychology experiment/time circuit number match/over the rainbow] bonus round! Clips from the various movies are sprinkled liberally throughout.

The creepier thing about this is that it works. My girlfriend is not much of a gambler, so to get her to an actual table game is a daunting task, but if we sit at one of these machines it feels less like gambling than sitting at a mechanical one-armed bandit where the reels have cherries and oranges on them. It becomes a thing to do when you need to kill a half hour before Cirque du Soleil.

When we sit at one of these machines and put $20 in, we know exactly what we're doing, and we know that when we leave we'll have less money than when we started. But then that's true of everything in Vegas. Vacations in general are designed to liberate you of your money through attrition, and I'm OK with that because I know it ends once I get on the plane home.

Now, if I saw a row of gaming machines back home whenever I went to a restaurant or bar, I'd like to think I would ignore them, but I'm glad I don't have to find out.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:48 AM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

In New Orleans I went to their extremely tacky casino to kill some time before lunch, put five dollars into a branded Iron Man slot machine and hit "max bet all lines" and walked away with 82 bucks.

I assume it was divine intervention from St. Stark cause I used the money to go to a nicer place for lunch.
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on August 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think there's some preaching to the choir going on here. Are people who like this interface likely to be drawn to this?
posted by benito.strauss at 11:15 AM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I really don't understand the appeal of slot machines.

I've stayed up until the wee hours playing Civilization, which is known for its crack-like powers of addiction—but at least that involves meaningful strategy and decision-making, and it's full of neat music and artwork and voice acting, and it lets me think about history and different cultures and the grand story of humanity.

I've even played the hell out of Cookie Clicker and its various demon spawn—but I'll be damned if I'm gonna pay for the privilege, you know? I mean, I might tip the developer a buck or two if I like the game—but to pay an hourly rate to play a game that's specifically designed to be addictive is madness.

I've played slots only once. A couple of friends and I were bored with our usual routine of hanging out at the pub, so we went to the casino in the next town over. (At the time, they only had slots—they later got licensed for table games—but man did they have a lot of slots. Thousands and thousands of them.)

They gave first-time visitors a card with $25 of credit for free, which was nice. I actually came out a few dollars ahead by the end of the night, and the evening was worthwhile for the novelty, but I had zero desire to repeat the experience (and I haven't).

I remember being...surprised? mystified? all of the meaningless complexities in the game mechanics, all designed to give the illusion that you, the player, had some influence on the outcome.

So, at about 6:30 pm I noticed an older woman on the end of one of the rows of slot machines, with a full ashtray, some kind of soft drink, and a container of quarters. That machine had 100% of her attention.

This was exactly my experience. So many people just staring at the screen, as if they were watching a TV show that they didn't care about but couldn't stop watching—not looking like they were enjoying this alleged entertainment at all. Cigarette in one hand; drink in the other; pushing a button over and over to roll tacky, noisy, glorified dice for hours. The machine wasn't serving them; they were serving the machine.

Is it the dream of hitting the jackpot that people find compelling? Because there are thousands of much better games that anyone with a PC can play, for a one-time fee ranging from nothing to a few bucks. And it's not exactly a secret that casino games are rigged against the players. (What's that old chestnut about the lottery? That it's a tax on people who are bad at math?)

tl;dr: I just don't get it. Go play Cookie Clicker; you'll waste just as much time, but it's free.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:15 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

In my youth I worked for a few months on the midnight to eight am shift at a slot machine place in Texas. They operated through a loophole in the law, which dictated that machines could give out non-cash prizes of up to $5. So they paid out in five dollar Wal-Mart gift certificates. A few months after I left they were raided, had the machines confiscated, and were shut down.

What fascinated me was how, even for extremely boring games, the players would be enthralled for hours. The games they were using were older and cheap, nothing like the sophisticated ones seen here, and still the Skinner Box effect was strong. People would come into the place and play for hours on end, dumping hundreds of dollars.

Like the F2P games on today's mobile devices, even the cheap slots machines in the place I worked were very much devoted to maximizing butt in chair time rather than draining the punter of their money as quickly as possible. In the low value machines even spending just one dollar could result in upwards of 5 to 10 minutes of gaming before it evaporated. Payout was typically in the upper 90% (that is, out of every 10 rounds of the game, the punter would win small quantities in 9 before losing a large quantity that wiped out the prior wins plus a bit in the tenth round).

And the games were dead boring. Not like the stuff seen in the links, just very basic push one button to start an animation, and a few seconds of animation later see if you won or not.

I've often wondered what would happen if someone merged the slot machine model with an MMO (gear degrades over time and costs real dollars to fix, healing potions cost real money, etc but killing monsters yields tiny quantities of real dollars, and there's always the possibility of a jackpot monster), or even just a game like Candy Crush only with cash payouts offered as an extra incentive to keep playing.

Current gambling law in the USA makes doing that here a mite difficult, but if anyone can get it going then yeesh.
posted by sotonohito at 11:18 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It was allegedly Alex Trebek who said, “I don’t gamble, because winning a hundred dollars doesn’t give me great pleasure. But losing a hundred dollars pisses me off."

That sums it up for me: I went to Vegas for work in July and the only reason I gambled at all was because my father promised me he'd match what I lost up to $20. Free money yes, my own hard earned money? Hell no.

Having worked at a casino, I can also tell you that gambling is part of a trinity of its own: drinking, smoking, and gambling are addictions which absolutely go hand in hand. Makes for some very unhappy human beings.
posted by librarylis at 11:24 AM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I read a fascinating article about the psych-tech of slot machines a few years ago, which focused on the apparently wildly popular Wheel of Fortune model. The thing I remember is how it's programmed to play just a little bit of the theme song at first, then a tiny bit more and more as you keep playing longer. After a while, hearing the whole song becomes part of the promised reward that keeps you glued to the machine. The programmers' trick was to dole out the music in increments that were just enough to keep you playing.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:29 AM on August 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I used to fly thru the Las Vegas airport fairly regularly while working as a consultant, and I was always tempted to play one of the many slot machines there -- yes, all over the airport -- because, hey, come on, Vegas, right? But I always avoided dropping even one buck into them because I figured I'd lose, and I wouldn't want to walk away without winning at least once, and I'd wind up spending ten or fifteen bucks to get a lousy $2 payout. So all those time thru the airport, I just left them be.

I spent my money on drinks instead.
posted by Gelatin at 1:53 PM on August 11, 2014

Yick. I've watched one family member lose their small business, one resort to embezzlement, and one gamble their way into extreme poverty at $.25/pull. We're talking too poor to afford basic amenities like water so they go to the local park with a bucket and fill it from the water fountain so that they have drinking water and can flush their toilet.

It's not a fun place to be. When social pressure compels my presence at one of these establishments, I people watch until I get the sads from seeing how engrossed in this self-defeating behavior they get. I kid my neighbors across the river who flock to the casinos just over the state line that they're paying my taxes for me but that's mostly to hide the sadness. Like maybe they'd get the idea that I get a free ride out of their misery and so stop. I honestly don't understand how this is legal. It's like a license to mint felons. I can't imagine a weekend goes by without someone finding themselves literally destitute and not knowing how they got there.

The degree to which the experience is engineered to maximize the take also speaks directly counter to their imploring their "guests" not to gamble any more than they can afford to lose.

I really deplore casinos.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:57 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have played slots exactly once; a friend took me to a casino a couple years ago. I decided to try $10 on penny slots because hey, I could easily spend $10 on silly entertainment, right?

And that's when I could sense the reward part of my brain kick in. I don't remember any of the specifics, other than this constant positive reward. Even the losses set you up to further appreciate the wins. *bleep* dopamine release. *bleep* more dopamine.

In the end I came out ahead by a couple bucks, but didn't cash out. Holding on to the slip as a reminder of why I'd never play again was more important.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:38 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I grew up in Reno, where slots were everywhere including the small supermarket you might stop at to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home. Get some change from the transaction? Might as well throw it in the slots positioned at the front of the store on your way out!

Developments in slot machines appear to track the adoption of computer GUI's in much of the population.

One big change in the slot machine world I noticed some years ago is the elimination of coins pouring out of the machine with a jackpot. What's the fun of winning without that?
posted by telstar at 4:32 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

We were in Pittsburgh last year when I realized my wife had never been in a casino. So what the hell, it was vacation, and we could afford to lose $50 on an "experience." (I've been to Vegas, and very much enjoy the occasional home poker game, so I have my share of gambling experience.) I was pleasantly surprised that there was a non-smoking section of the casino, but otherwise we were bored sick in about 40 minutes and walked out down about $3...but really up a couple of bucks if you count the free sodas we drank.

The people watching alone would have been worth the $50 had we lost.

What genetic thing causes addiction to slots, we apparently don't have it.
posted by COD at 5:36 PM on August 11, 2014

I love Vegas slot machines. Whenever I go I play them with a friend taking turns on those slightly kinky seats that rumble when exciting things happen and we have the most hilarious time + free drinks for about $20. It's hard to beat that. No one at a table game is going to think our edgiest best - $1 - is worth all the excitement we get and all the rituals we do before pressing that button and tolerate our excitement at all wins no matter how tiny. The best game I ever played was something with a panther man that would leer at you in a manner that was supposed to be sexy and roar when you won anything. That one was awesome, though it didn't have the fun chair thing.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:54 PM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Way back, once upon a time when I was finishing college, I funded a decent part of my last couple of semesters (after my savings from working had run out) by playing poker, which was legal in only a few places in the state in which I lived at the time. One of them was an tribal casino which, during the time I was school, went from a tiny operation in a couple of large quonset huts to a huge destination vacation facility with lodging, entertainment, etc..

I vividly remember one visit during that expansion period. It was the first time I had played at that facility since they had introduced a reward card program. In order to "earn" points towards jackets with the casino logo on them or meals at the casino's dining facility, you had to put your rewards card into a slot on the machine you were playing so it could track how much you played. To save you from getting distracted and forgetting your card when you switched machines, each card had a springy coiled plastic leash attached to a clip which was meant to be affixed to your shirt so that when you left a machine the leash would make sure you couldn't lose track of your card.

I've never been a fan of slots and video machines to begin with (I prefer to only play games where I have a reasonable positive expectation and am under no illusions about the house games) but even if I had enjoyed them, I think the nightmarish visual experience of walking through a casino past dozens, possibly hundreds of people, mostly elderly, oddly lit by the flickering colored lights of the machines and wreathed in smoke from countless smouldering cigarettes, every f'ing one of them (on that night, at least) with a coiled plastic tube running from their chests to a slot in the machine would have put me off slots forever.

Lots of casinos (almost all of them) still have player clubs, but I don't ever see the coiled plastic leashes any more. I wonder if other people found them similarly disturbing or if I was the only one.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:27 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and a word to those of you whose stories about gambling can be succinctly summed up with "I went once, lost $20, didn't have any fun, and never wanted to go again," count yourselves lucky. I think for most people that's the best possible outcome. Think of it as a vaccination..

Certainly during my years in card rooms (I don't play much any more but for several years after a downturn in my industry it was my livelihood) I've seen some really disturbing self-destruction. In fact that's one of the reasons I stopped playing for my livelihood -- despite the fact that I knew they would lose to someone else if I removed myself, I still didn't want to be part of helping people tear their lives, and those of their families and loved ones, apart. The old maxim among poker players is that to be a top player you've got to have "alligator blood," i.e. be cold-blooded and uncaring about other people's issues and focused only on the game.

It turns out that while I have many of the other elements for success in that endeavor I don't have alligator blood. I'm OK with that.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:34 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

//I don't ever see the coiled plastic leashes any more//

I saw them in Pittsburgh last year.
posted by COD at 5:49 AM on August 12, 2014

Frederick & Donald Barthelme gambled away an inheritance. It was fascinating to read about. I can't find the New Yorker link.

I find the atmosphere in casinos to be wretched - noise, lights, no sunshine - and I'm far too cheap to blow money that way.
posted by theora55 at 3:19 PM on August 12, 2014

COD: "//I don't ever see the coiled plastic leashes any more//

I saw them in Pittsburgh last year.

I used to like Coiled Plastic Leashes, but their new stuff is too much like Blur.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:16 PM on August 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

I go to trade shows in Vegas. I stay for several days and I do not gamble a dime. It doesn't look like "games" to me. It looks like mechanized processing of raw material for money, then the slag or ash is expelled from the building when it no longer contains anything of value.

You just described two thirds of human-human interaction.
posted by telstar at 1:04 AM on August 29, 2014

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