Exposure to free-play modes in simulated online gaming increases risk-taking in monetary gambling


This study examined the behavioral effects of practice modes in simulated slot machine gambling. A sample of 128 participants predominantly aged 18-24 years were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 pre-exposure conditions: control (no practice), standard 90% return to player, inflated return to player and inflated return with pop-up messages. Participants in all conditions engaged in monetary gambling using a realistic online simulation of a slot machine. As predicted, the results showed that those players exposed to inflated or 'profit' demonstration modes placed significantly higher bets in the real-play mode as compared to the other groups. However, the groups did not differ in relation to how long they persisted in the real-play mode. Pop-up messages had no significant effect on monetary gambling behavior. The results of this study confirm that exposure to inflated practice or "demo" modes lead to short-term increases in risk-taking. These findings highlight the need for careful regulation and monitoring of internet gambling sites, as well as further research on the potential risks of simulated gambling activities for vulnerable segments of the gambling population.

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