Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 607–623 | Cite as

Volatility, House Edge and Prize Structure of Gambling Games

  • Nigel E. Turner
Original Paper


This study used simulations to examine the effect of prize structure on the outcome volatility and the number of winners of various game configurations. The two most common prize structures found in gambling games are even money payoff games (bet $1; win $2) found on most table games and multilevel prizes structures found in gambling machine games. Simulations were set up to examine the effect of prize structure on the long-term outcomes of these games. Eight different prize structures were compared in terms of the number of winners and volatility. It was found that the standard table game and commercial gambling machines produced fairly high numbers of short term winners (1 h), but few long term winners (50 h). It was found that the typical even money game set up produced the lowest level of volatility. Of the multilevel prize structures examined, the three simulations based on commercial gambling machines were the least volatile. The results are examined in terms of the pragmatics of game design.


Game volatility Problem gambling Effect of prize structure Gambling technology 



Support to CAMH for salary of scientists and infrastructure has been provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (OMHLTC).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Epidemiological Research Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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