Video Poker "Crack Cocaine" of Gambling
The Advocate, Capital City
of the nation’s foremost experts on gambling addiction, Harvard
Medical School Professor Howard Shaffer, was the first to call
video poker the "crack cocaine of gambling."
I meant was that these are rapid games, quickly played, relatively
private, and hold the greatest potential for addictive disorder
because they work our neuro-biological systems in the most
threatening of ways," Shaffer said during a recent visit to
fast-acting games are like fast-acting drugs. You get a rush (when
you win), and then you’re off, and you’re still there to play
again," he added. Even though no drug is involved, Shaffer
said many gambling addicts show some signs of physical withdrawal
when they stop feeding their habit – just as if they were hooked
on heroin and in need of a fix.
Shaffer has made a career of studying gambling addicts, he’s
also working to stop gambling problems before they start. Shaffer
was in town last week to help train teachers for a new program
that uses math to teach eighth-graders about the pitfalls of
we are trying to show, through math, is that when you gamble, you
are placing a bet on an uncertain event. And the uncertainty of
that event is far greater than you think," Shaffer said.
gamblers generally think their odds are better than they really
are, he said. For instance, someone who buys a lottery ticket or
plays a slot machine should realize that the odds are against
breaking even, much less winning anything.
if I play, I have to be willing to say that I am throwing my money
away," Shaffer said. "Now if I enjoy that, it’s just
like going to Disney World, because I don’t come home from
Disney World with any money either," Shaffer said.
difference is that most people who go to Disney World generally
know how long the visit is going to last and when money is going
to be taken from them.
when you gamble, money can be taken under contingencies that you
didn’t anticipate," Shaffer said…
said some gambling addicts have sued slot machine manufacturers,
following the example set by victims of cigarette smokers who went
after tobacco companies
of it has been successful yet, but it wasn’t for the tobacco
industry for a long time," he said. Shaffer noted that, while
tobacco companies denied the hazards of smoking for years, the
casino industry acknowledges some people have problems with