“Like a vampire seducing its prey, the VLTs were, at first blush, sexy and alluring. They were shiny, flashy, fast, and exhilarating and unfortunately for me, it was love at first sight-not the romantic, beautiful, and healthy love you’d witness in The Notebook, but the obsessive, destructive kind that you’d see in Fatal Attraction.” Gisele Jubinville
Do you or someone you love relate to this quote? The gaming machine addiction, or in other words, an addiction to VLTs or slot machines, is unlike any other gambling addiction. There are very few treatment programs that recognize this. As Gisele Jubinville outlines in her book Dismissed: How one woman’s intuition ended her addiction and exposed a government cover-up, one of the most important elements missing from treatment programs is a basic understanding of how gaming machines work. Losing control of time and money, continuous and excessive play, the inability to make controlled, informed and rational choices, and losing touch with reality are all COMMON and NORMAL experiences for regular VLT and slot machine players.
Let’s look at this statement and how it affects your addiction. One of the most common reactions after a gaming machine binge is self-loathing. Normal healthy internal dialogue switches from compassion and understanding to anger, impatience and judgment. You think, “Why am I so weak?” “What just happened to me?” “I’m such a pathetic mess. How am I ever going to get my money back?” “If someone finds out, they’ll hate me for sure.” “Why do I keep losing my money on these machines? I have no will power. What a failure I am.” These thoughts roll around in your mind, dampening your mood and infesting your self-esteem. Pretty soon, you start to believe them. You believe your addiction is your fault. You determine that you are the only one to blame for your actions and therefore you deserve the internal abuse you put yourself through.
But what if this isn’t the case? What if you are not the only one to blame? What if there are factors that contribute to your addiction that you weren’t even aware of. Did you know that millions of dollars a year are spent by manufacturers of VLTs and slot machines to increase time of play? Psychologists, behavioural scientists, doctors and researchers are hired to sharpen the program inside the machine to undermine the regular player’s ability to play responsibly. If you can’t stop playing the machines, perhaps it’s time you understand that the very ones who designed the programs you are playing actually wanted it that way. They want you to insert your money into their machines and they have done everything they can to achieve this goal. Everything about the machine has been consciously designed to hook you in and keep you there. It is a manipulation that most players are not even aware of.
Most new players are attracted by the potential of winning a jackpot. It’s why new players find VLTs and slot machines entertaining at first. But, over time entertainment turns to entrapment. Regularly playing the machines affects your thinking. Your controlled, rational mind is replaced with an irrational thinking that fools itself into believing you will actually make money on the machines. This is what the program inside the machine wants you think. It has created a scheduled system of reinforcement to condition you to expect, hope for and want the elusive winning jackpot. And it has you thinking it is just around the corner, just another $20 oughta do it. When you play regularly, your normal thinking is replaced with this insane rationalization and you end up chained to the machines.
So yes, take ownership of your addiction. You cannot heal until you do. But consider also that perhaps you are more a victim than you are an addict. When you let this sink in, your internal dialogue will begin to change. Instead of beating yourself up for losing control again, you’ll think, “I am doing exactly what the machines are programming me to do. When I sit in front of a VLT or slot machine, my mind is being affected. The program inside the machine is created with the purpose of keeping me at the machine for as long as possible. Losing control of my time and money is a NORMAL reaction for regular players of these machines.”
As your internal dialogue changes, so too will your actions. The urge to play the machines will start to disappear the more you understand how the machines work. Instead of unsuccessfully trying to force yourself to stay away from the machines, you will naturally want to stay away. Knowledge is freedom. It is a natural and harmonious path to recovery and I encourage you to start researching. It could potentially save your life.