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Why are Gambling Machines Addictive?
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Why are Gambling Machines Addictive?

  #1 (permalink)
Market Wizard
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Why are Gambling Machines Addictive?

I'm in the hospital with a recently homed family who had been homeless until a short while ago. The mother and older son were injured by an uncle who was looking for money to pay gambling debts.

As it has considerable bearing on trading/scalping and by odd coincidence it was the first thing I saw when I went to look for something to watch while waiting, I figured I should post it. I would personally be 99% confident that over-trading can become a similar physical addiction.

I'm not demonising trading, its a good living for many of us but like anything, some are at risk more than others but particularly when higher frequency trades are involved.

BBC Panorama -Why are Gambling Machines Addictive? BBC Documentary 2016



Edit: replaced original URL as it was pulled from Youtube.

For an overview:
https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/sep/13/panorama-why-are-gambling-machines-addictive-review-fobt-scandal

"Wendy meets a Cambridge statistician to look into the numbers. The return, the percentage of the money staked that is paid out, is 97.3%. That might not sound so bad; it’s certainly less bad than other forms of gambling. But, explains Professor David Spiegelhalter, it’s the relatively high chance of a win that helps make the machines so addictive. "

"Tony takes part in a little experiment. He’s given a fictional 1,000 to spend on a simulated FOBT, (fixed odds betting terminal) then popped into an MRI scanner. When he starts playing, his brain’s habit centres immediately light up and become overactivated (and his toes twitch, too, although I’m not sure of the relevance of that). And not just when he wins – he gets a fix every time he plays, and that can be every 20 seconds with a FOBT. “Gambling addiction is not a failure of will,” explains Professor David Nutt, the brain man. “It is a brain disorder that is preyed upon by the gambling industry. Once you become addicted, it’s very, very hard to stop, because you have changed your brain. Addiction is a brain that has changed to become entrained to the desires of the gambling.”


Last edited by Rory; 15 Hours Ago at 05:24 PM.
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  #3 (permalink)
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I was addicted to gambling machines 10 year, lost too much money,
hit the rock bottom and haven't played since 2002.

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One of the reasons that I have no interest in mobile trading apps or cloud based trading platforms. Just a slippery slope IMO to monitoring/trading the markets 24 hours a day unless one is incredibly well disciplined.

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One of the reasons that I have no interest in mobile trading apps or cloud based trading platforms. Just a slippery slope IMO to monitoring/trading the markets 24 hours a day unless one is incredibly well disciplined.

Indeed, I largely do trade 18 hours a day x 5 days, the weekend gives me some peace. If not for this enforced break, I could be in trouble. I make money however often enough, I still see charts in my head when I should be relaxing on Saturday.

For this reason I keep trading on my PCs and away from other devices, when I am outside my appartment, that is it, no market and it keeps me balanced enough.

@lemons Great you keeping away from them! I grew up in a financially depressed town and saw people at gambling machines a lot. Thankfully in Ireland they were restricted to little "casino" places, betting offices, maybe snooker halls etc. When I moved to the UK I really did not like seeing them in every damn pub. Clearly a bad thing for society.


Last edited by Rory; September 17th, 2016 at 05:47 PM.
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I would say though the difference between a casino and trading is that a casino is designed and engineered to be addictive in a sense. Every aspect from the booze to the type of lighting/no windows is designed to keep you gambling as long as possible to push their edge.

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multiArmedBandit View Post
I would say though the difference between a casino and trading is that a casino is designed and engineered to be addictive in a sense. Every aspect from the booze to the type of lighting/no windows is designed to keep you gambling as long as possible to push their edge.

Indeed though I was not aiming for a direct comparison just an awareness of the organic mechanism of gambling/risk addiction. Its easy to slip into one of those subjective & endless 'is trading gambling' type discussions.

Possibly worth observing though that some/many traders left unchecked create their own addictive environment. For example "indicator madness"? happens to most of us at some point and this I believe closely parallels the fixed odds betting terminal effects as observed in the MRI scan; shiny lights and patterns for the eyes and deceptively useless information creating a false sense of control.

As described in the video a FOBT being tested shows the history of the last x numbers that won. The statistician dude observes that this is functionally useless information but it can give the gambler an idea he can see a pattern forming.

Additionally unscrupulous brokers particularly in the FX field allowed (still allow?) credit card funding and small/large amounts deposited in a few minutes. This is a danger area for some. For the feedback loop to work best the pace of trading/funding must be kept up.

As someone who will often (successfully as I could not afford not to) make 140 - 240 scalps in a day I can certainly attest to some residual physical effect. I'm a professional, I do my best to see it as 'its a job' and I'm fairly clinical but many are not so fortunate.


Last edited by Rory; September 26th, 2016 at 10:50 AM. Reason: typo
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A variable schedule of reinforcement after behaving increases the likelihood of behaving the same way in the future. I don't know if that is addiction per se. If the behavior is no longer reinforced, after a strong surge in the behavior, the behavior becomes extinct.

Or the trader blows out his account.


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A variable schedule of reinforcement after behaving increases the likelihood of behaving the same way in the future. futures.io

I think it's this....
Question is how to combat other than abstinence

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Primary difference in trading and gambling is that traders can bet more when they want too. Most gambling games prevent betting more. This is why I've always harked on that good/great traders must know when they have a better trade so that they can bet more. Systems accomplish the same thing by being more selective. However, selectivity increases certain types of risk. Traders with smaller accounts are at severe disadvantage if they are already trading max size because they can't bet more and still maintain a reasonable risk control.

Also, one shouldn't believe every psychology study they read. For example, I played online poker many moons ago and only for the purposes of training to make myself a better trader. According to the literature, gambling is encouraged when the reward is more immediate. The take away would be that if you're playing a game of skill that if you give yourself more time to make decisions then you'd do better. I found just the opposite. I found when I'd join larger table games that I'd get bored and tended to lose. However, in turbo games or playing with only a few players then I could get a "read" on the other players, similar to my market read, and did not become bored and was able to bet more often because we played more hands, and my performance was at least an order of magnitude better.

If we transfer my experience to a trading, if a trader is having trouble with waiting for a good trade or whatever "impatience" then they may find that simply trading on a faster time frame will improve their performance. There is some mathematical support for this. If we image that only certain moves or time are opportune to enter the market -- obviously we're talking about selectivity -- and we're talking about a smaller time frame then it makes sense that even though in terms the overall selectivity might be similar, say 25% or 30% of the time, in terms of the delay/wait time it would be shorter on the smaller time frames. Likewise, seeing more moves and more activity allows for greater implicit learning which is a hallmark strength of exceptional discretionary traders.

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