When Losses Feel Like Wins

A study published by Canada’s University of Waterloo by Candice Graydon, Madison Stange and Mike J. Dixon in December shed some light on why players enjoy certain machines and the impact of losses disguised as wins (LDW), which is defined as players winning less than they wager (e.g., bet $2, win back 50 cents), the net loss disguised by flashing graphics and winning sounds. In the study, 32 undergraduate students with experience playing slot machines played 100 spins on four games. Two had positive payback percentages (115 percent) and two had negative payback percentages (85 percent) after 100 spins. Two games had no LDWs and two had a moderate amount of LDWs. Students were then allowed to continue play, and most of them chose the high-payback machine with LDWs.

To obtain a copy of the study, visit uwaterloo.ca/gambling-research-lab/publications.