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Kiddie casinos

 
 
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 10:01 am
Several years ago I read an article about the neurology of gambling. MRIs were done on people as they gambled and the study showed that near misses had the same effect on the brain as winning. This is one of the reasons that people have a hard time stopping once they start gambling.

Several years later I watched Mo, who was maybe 6 at the time, play one of the claw games at the supermarket and it made me recall the article. Mo, who was using his own money, simply couldn't stop playing. When he had spent his few dollars and hadn't won anything he became furious and frustrated. He talked about it for days. We had a long talk about how I thought the game was like gambling and that we simply weren't going to "play" it anymore. Luckily the lesson stuck and we haven't had anymore problems with it.

All of this came back to me this weekend when we visited a nearby waterpark. I was amazed that the arcade at the park was so very similar to a casino -- even the games were similar to ones you see in a casino: Monopoly, Deal or no Deal, Wheel of Fortune; there were even poker themed games, games of "skill" and games of "chance". Sprinkled among these games were a few more traditional arcade games. (I thought it interesting that the traditional arcade games didn't pay out in long streams of tickets like the other casino style games) The arcade had no clocks or windows and it even sounded like a casino.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see that the waterpark resort was owned by one of the area Tribes that also has a casino just a few miles down the road.

So now I'm wondering --- are these resorts, designed and built for kids, simply "gateway" casinos that exploit the developing executive function of the brains of children?

What do you think?
 
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 11:59 am
I think you're right.

Also, if these kiddie casinos don't lure the future adults into real casinos, I think it can retard their growth into more adult interests.

I few years back, I needed to find a venue for a job fair, to be held in the evening, during the week. I ended up getting space at a Dave and Busters. I didn't know anything about them, and didn't imagine how popular this place was to adults.
I got us a big room for the job seekers, and part of the deal was that everyone could get 2 drinks (beer or wine) and a certain amount of tokens. Plus of course free food.
I was busy working for quite some time, but when I finally had a chance, I was amazed at how many of the people who'd come in to look for a job were so excited by having tokens to play the games. Some people were actually enthralled by the whole thing, and looked like those people who see manning the one armed bandits.

Oh sure, I like a video game, or pinball once in a while as much as the next person, but to me, this was really kid stuff. I remember thinking they could have had more adult games, something more challenging, but this was more about the addictive quality, as well as the childishness.

0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 12:09 pm
@boomerang,
Yes Boomerang!

I hate Chuck E Cheese for exactly this reason. Kids play stupid games to get tickets, the tickets turn into prizes. Of course the prizes are worth far less then the money we spend to get the stupid tickets.

The focus of a trip this hellhole becomes to get tickets. It is like some twisted Pavlovian experiment. The kids will play the stupider games in order to get these little rectangular paper treats.

In an attempt to make this contemptible place a little less evil, I tried to make the no-ticket rule. We would play the games for fun and would throw away the damned tickets. This failed miserably as it was seen as "cruel". I even offered to buy stupid plastic toys in place of the tickets, but this giant furry BF Skinner won out.

There are lots of other examples. In the supermarket near our house is a gumball type machine that contains one really cool prize (like an electronic game) in with really cheap toys. Fifty cents buys you a chance at the good toy which is heavily featured on the outside of the machine. I refuse to let any kid use this machine under my watch.

It is nice that you were able to have a teachable moment.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 12:23 pm
Don't even get me started on that Chuck E. Cheese... the E stands for Evil.

I think places like you describe are meant to lure in kids with the same techniques as any gaming facility. They want to get them hooked and keep them spending. The operators know the mental buttons to press. I've read that the younger a person is the more likely they are to develop an addiction, if given the trigger. I cringe when I see an adult give a kid a scratch off lottery ticket. Some people are certainly more prone to addiction, but we don't know how many borderline addicts are thrown into a full addiction by such activities that are presented as play. Considering Mo's family history, I think he needs to know he might carry an addiction gene and it would best if he learned to spot and avoid the temptation.
George
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 12:38 pm
Oh man, those miserable tickets!

See: Barnum, Phineas Taylor
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 12:47 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

There are lots of other examples. In the supermarket near our house is a gumball type machine that contains one really cool prize (like an electronic game) in with really cheap toys. Fifty cents buys you a chance at the good toy which is heavily featured on the outside of the machine. I refuse to let any kid use this machine under my watch.



The supermarkets around here have those crane games, where the claw moves over a selection of toys, and you drop it on what you want to win.
I only look at them as look as it takes me to walk through that foyer section of the store, but I'm always surprised at the number of adults who stand there with their kids, trying to win something.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 12:49 pm
@boomerang,
From your description, it sounds like thay r.





David
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 01:25 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
So now I'm wondering --- are these resorts, designed and built for kids, simply "gateway" casinos that exploit the developing executive function of the brains of children?

What do you think?


I think it's not intentional, it's just basic psychology where both systems share an ideal reinforcement schedule: a variable schedule of reinforcement.

Just about any activity is more addicting with a variable schedule of reinforcement. So you can even apply this to parenting, and not invariably praise, for example, if you want to have your praise have greater behavioral consequences.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 01:29 pm
Those tickets really give me pause since they're what reinforce the idea "I've won!"

I wasn't familiar with Dave and Busters so I looked them up and yep, they're very much like the kid casinos. I wonder why an adult wouldn't just go to a casino.

Luckily Mo doesn't like the pizza at Chuckie Cheese so he never asks to go there. I hate it when he gets invitations to parties held there since it means that all the kids are expected to bring pockets of cash for the honor of attending said party. Plus, though I'm not at all germ phobic, that is the filthiest place I've ever seen in my life!

I'm not anti-gambling. I just got back from a trip to Las Vegas. I had a good time wasting some money.

But yeah.... Mo's history.... he's going to really need to be careful about such things.
DrewDad
 
  6  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 01:30 pm
@Green Witch,
Green Witch wrote:

Don't even get me started on that Chuck E. Cheese... the E stands for Evil.

No... it stands for e coli.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 01:33 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Hmmmm......

I'm not sure I agree about it being unintentional. Especially in the case where the resort is affiliated with a casino.

And because I've seen Mo at the point where he would have mortgaged the house for an extra buck to play the claw game.

I'm going to think on this a bit.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 01:59 pm
@boomerang,
I don't think it matters, really...re intention. And Robert is most certainly right about the variable schedule of reinforcement.

If Mo got that intense about a claw game, it'd be a good idea maybe to start educating him about how those things suck money...ie the mechanics of the house always wins etc.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 03:02 pm
@boomerang,
I think it's intentional to get him into the claw game, but not to get him hooked on casino gambling. He needs no preparation for that, the same trick would work about as well without prior conditioning to the schedule of reinforcement.

Another trick that the claw game and gambling also share is to invoke a sunk cost fallacy in his reasoning, you might want to teach him about that (it's also an important gambling lesson) because as they say in poker "cards don't have memory", and missing a bunch of times doesn't make it more likely to hit the next time. One of the reasons he wants just one more dollar is because he thinks it might vindicate previous dollars. But the machine doesn't work that way, he should understand he is likely to just keep loosing.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jan, 2011 03:08 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
I'm not sure I agree about it being unintentional. Especially in the case where the resort is affiliated with a casino
The indians do not do their own casinos, they subcontract most of the work out. I bet you will find if you look that the same companies that run these water parks run the casinos, and that casinos is their primary business.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 07:20 am
@Robert Gentel,
I've seen myself become involved in the sunk cost fallacy a time or two. Luckily in my cases the cost was mostly time.

It's strange how that idea works, how something can get so hooked into your thoughts that you (I) can just continue to try and try when clearly the approach is wrong.

Strangely enough, this is one of the reasons I like video games: knowing there's a strategy that will work and finding it. And having to change the way your thinking to be able to find it. (The fact that I've been reading "Ender's Game" has this idea in the forefront of my head right now, anyway.)

It reminds me of something I read not long ago about how people who are able to "think outside the box" usually don't have a particularly sturdy box.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 07:24 am
In Mo's behalf I should say that he avoids these types of games, especially the claw games, and even warns other people away from them. It took a very serious melt-down for him to learn it but I think he learned it deep inside.

At the waterpark arcade he stuck to the traditional games without me having to urge him in that direction. He's growing up!
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 09:09 am
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
I wasn't familiar with Dave and Busters so I looked them up and yep, they're very much like the kid casinos. I wonder why an adult wouldn't just go to a casino.


because the quasi-ride things can be fun

I've only gone 2 or 3 times, don't care if I never go again, but I had fun there - not as noisy as Chuckie's - and I loved loved loved the virtual roller coaster.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 11:47 am
What are your thoughts on carnival games? I kinda look at them the same way. I don't mind as much those where you compete against other players - at least some one wins.

So at one such carnival game, my little one wants this big doggie. It was a fishing type of thing - I think everyone wins something, but 90% win that crappy little stuffed item that you cannot even tell what it is supposed to be.

Anyone I say - ok you play - once, but and I go on to explain how almost every single one is the crappy thing so don't cry when you don't win.

And you know what - that damn little monster won that big doggie. Now I have this very large stuffed cheap dog and no lesson learned.
George
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 12:11 pm
@Linkat,
That's hilarious. I'd love to have seen the look on your face.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 12:14 pm
@George,
It was nice to see her get excited to win - but damn I wished she didn't. Can't just toss that dog in the trash like if she won that cheap whatever the h*ll it was item.
 

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