‘Jackpot expiry’ limits gambling losses

From ABC News in Science, 9 July 2014:

Would you continue gambling on a poker machine if you knew there was no chance of winning the jackpot?

Setting a ‘jackpot expiry’ time limit for a poker machine causes gamblers to walk away sooner, a new Australian study shows.

The research, published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, describes a program whereby after a set period of time, a message appears on the screen of the poker machine informing the gambler that they are no longer eligible to win the jackpot for a certain length of time.

Lead author Associate Professor Matthew Rockloff says jackpot expiry is a consumer protection feature that acts as a ‘soft break’ for gamblers and is less paternalistic than other measures that cut people off from gambling or limit their choices.

“At the point where they start gambling excessively, either excessive time within a session or even excessively over a period of days … the jackpots expire for a period of time,” says Rockloff, a psychologist and gambling researcher at Central Queensland University.

“It allows people to consider whether they want to continue gambling. They can if they wish for pure recreation, but they are locked out of winning the jackpot.”

The study tested the program with 130 volunteers, who were given $20 for their time, then asked if they wished to gamble the money on a laptop-based electronic gaming machine, with the possibility of winning a $500 jackpot.

The game was also rigged to allow small early wins followed by an indefinite period of losses.

“After the expiry message appeared, people started gambling slower and they ended up quitting earlier, meaning that they walked away with more money,” says Rockloff. Read more.

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