The Effects of Machine Balance and Free-Spins Features on Machine Preference and Bet Amounts

  • Lydia A. ChapmanEmail author
  • Maree J. Hunt
  • Lorance F. Taylor
  • Anne C. Macaskill
Original Paper


Across two experiments, the current study investigated whether the balance displayed on slot-machine screens affects gamblers’ decision making in a manner similar to the “house-money effect” observed in other gambling modes. The balance indicates the total amount the gambler has available to wager from. We manipulated initial slot-machine balance within a simulated slot-machine task. Participants gambled on each of two machines and then were able to switch between the two allowing us to assess the effect of machine balance on both preference and bet amounts. Experiment 1 also manipulated which machine incorporated a free-spins feature. In both experiments participants preferred to wager on, and made larger bets on, machines with higher balances. Experiment 1 replicated previous findings that people prefer to gamble on machines offering free spins. Together, these two experiments identify balance available as an additional slot-machine feature that contributes to slot-machine gambling behavior.


Slot machines EGMs Pokie machines Free spins House-money effect Gambling 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Psychology Human Ethics Committee under delegated authority of Victoria University of Wellington’s Human Ethics Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.C/- School of PsychologyVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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