Electronic Gaming Machine Characteristics: It’s the Little Things That Count

  • Jason Landon
  • Katie Palmer du Preez
  • Alyssa Page
  • Maria Bellringer
  • Amanda Roberts
  • Max Abbott


A range of gamblers, from low-frequency social gamblers through to problem gamblers in treatment, participated in focus groups discussing the characteristics of Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) that they found attractive. Analyses of the resulting transcripts resulted in two groups of EGM characteristics being identified as important, one group associated with winning and one with betting. Overall, free spin features were identified in all groups as the most attractive characteristic of EGMS. Beyond that it was smaller win-related characteristics, and low-denomination machines with multiple playable lines that were associated with increased duration and intensity of gambling behaviour. The important characteristics were consistent across different levels of gamblers, with the key behavioural difference being a self-reported ‘expertise’, and ‘strategic’ approach to gambling amongst higher-frequency gamblers and problem gamblers in treatment. The key characteristics all occur frequently and result in more wins and extended gambling sessions. The patterns identified resonated with established behavioural principles, and with models describing the development of problem gambling and addictions more generally.


Gambling Problem gambling Electronic gaming machines Game characteristics Qualitative 



The authors would like the participants for generously giving their time to share their experiences, the New Zealand Ministry of Health for funding this project, and Hapai te Hauora Problem Gambling Team, the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, and Ruth Herd for their support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Jason Landon, Katie Palmer du Preez, Alyssa Page, Maria Bellringer, Amanda Roberts and Max Abbott declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


This research was funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Health under contract numbers 334040/00 and 01. The funder had no influence on the research design/conduct and there are no constraints on publishing the results.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason Landon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katie Palmer du Preez
    • 1
  • Alyssa Page
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maria Bellringer
    • 1
  • Amanda Roberts
    • 3
  • Max Abbott
    • 1
  1. 1.Gambling and Addictions Research CentreAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health & Environmental SciencesAuckland University of TechnologyNorthcoteNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK

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