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?