Investigative Journalism

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was a gambling machine addict

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had a serious gambling machine addiction. Read the latest New York Times story on his gambling behavior. Electronic gambling machines were at the center of his life.

Yet news coverage continues to use terms like “professional gambler” when describing Paddock. He was not a professional gambler.

No professional gambler uses slot machines and video poker machines like Paddock did. The machines create the illusion of skill but a user is mathematically guaranteed to lose all their money the longer they play them. Once you press the button on the machine, there is no skill involved. The computer inside the machine (known as the Random Number Generator) decides whether you lose or win. The player has no control over the outcome.

The image below is from the landmark book investigating electronic gambling machines Addiction By Design (Pg 112):

The business model of casinos is based on people like Paddock losing over and over again. While he may have won occasionally, it’s a statistical certainty that he lost huge sums of money the longer and more frequently he played as the graph above shows.

Paddock was playing hundreds of hands per hour (about one hand every six seconds) for many hours straight. Almost day after day.

No credible gambling addiction expert unaffiliated with gambling operators and independently-funded would describe him as a “responsible gambler.” ‘Responsible gambling’ is little more than a marketing slogan made up by commercialized gambling operators and their partners. Its intent is to place the spotlight on the citizen and away from their predatory and fraudulent business practices.

Whether Paddock’s out-of-control addiction to electronic gambling machines was a central factor in what happened last Sunday will be determined by the FBI investigation. But news coverage and public discussion should not normalize Paddock’s single-minded obsession with gambling machines and the exploitive business practices used by the casinos to keep Paddock gambling continuously.

Les Bernal, National Director, Stop Predatory Gambling

Les BernalLas Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was a gambling machine addict
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The U.S. has a lottery problem. But it’s not the people buying tickets.

From The Washington Post:

Despite their role in increasing economic inequality, lotteries remain remarkably popular in the United States, as millions of players believe in the distant chance that a lucky gamble will change their life. In 2014, annual sales reached over $70 billion, and Americans spent more on lottery tickets per year than they spent on books, sports tickets, music, video games and movie tickets combined.

The United States has a lottery problem, but it runs much deeper than players duped by a “stupid tax.” Public officials need to address the nation’s lottery addiction. When they do so, however, they need to consider not only the root causes of lotteries’ popularity — for example, declining access to social mobility and the concentration of lottery outlets in poor neighborhoods — but also the beliefs about taxes and state revenue that ushered in lottery legislation in the first place.

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Les BernalThe U.S. has a lottery problem. But it’s not the people buying tickets.
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Massachusetts slashes problem gambling services funding by 17 percent

When corporate gambling interests and state officials lobbied for government-sanctioned casinos in the state, they told the public that problem gambling services would be fully funded. Just a few years later, the state is slashing problem gambling services funding by almost 20 percent.

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Les BernalMassachusetts slashes problem gambling services funding by 17 percent
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O.J. Simpson parole hearing is an example of the new kind of gambling wagers

Allowing government-sanctioned sports gambling across the U.S. would corporate gambling operators to offer wagers on virtually anything far beyond sports. O.J. Simpson will be out of jail soon.

OJ Simpson’s hearing in front of the Nevada Board of Parole is one example. The sportsbook Bovada.lv advertised to citizens to place bets on the outcome.

Under the proposition bet: “Will O.J. Simpson be granted parole in 2017?” the lines were “Yes” (-300) and “No” (+200). The means to make $100 on a bet for “Yes” you would have to risk $300 while a $100 bet for “No” would net you $200, making “Yes” a heavy favorite.

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Les BernalO.J. Simpson parole hearing is an example of the new kind of gambling wagers
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Amid state takeover, bond agency designates negative outlook for Atlantic City

Moody’s Investors Service issued a May 2017 report on Atlantic City that kept the city’s general-obligation bond rating at Caa3 but revised the outlook to positive from negative.

The ratings company believes the state intervention has had a positive effect on the city, but it remains concerned about the city’s continued reliance on the casino industry and high debt burden.

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Les BernalAmid state takeover, bond agency designates negative outlook for Atlantic City
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Newspaper series spotlights predatory and fraudulent business practices of Oregon Lottery

This must-read series from The Oregonian details the business practices of the Oregon Lottery. It represents one of the very best investigative journalism efforts into state lotteries ever done.

2013 Oregon Lottery- Revenues grow on the increase in video slots games

2013 Oregon Lottery- Agency pushes slot machines as problem gamblers pay the price

2013 Oregon Lottery- Games, like tobacco earlier, could face liability lawsuits

2013 Oregon Lottery- Reader stories of state-sponsored addiction (day 1)

adamNewspaper series spotlights predatory and fraudulent business practices of Oregon Lottery
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Slot Machines Near Misses Are Perfectly Tuned to Stoke the Addiction

The Discover Magazine blog helps explain the allure of slot machines and the difficulty that some gamblers have in walking away by highlighting that, to a gambler’s brain, a near miss provides almost the same high as a win.

Slot Machines Near Misses Are Perfectly Tuned to Stoke the Addiction

CkirbySlot Machines Near Misses Are Perfectly Tuned to Stoke the Addiction
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