The allure of multi-line games in modern slot machines

Abstract

Aims: In multi-line slot machines, players can wager on more than one line per spin. We sought to show that players preferred multi-line over single-line games, and that certain game features could cause multi-line game play to feel more rewarding. Measurement and Participants: Reward was measured using post-reinforcement pauses (PRPs) following each outcome (the time between outcome delivery and the next spin). Gamblers (n = 102) played 250 spins on a 20-line game and 250 spins on a one-line game (answering questions about game experiences following each session). Playing one-line, a small credit gain (e.g. 2 cents) was a net win. In the 20-line game it was a net loss of 18 credits but was still accompanied by 'winning' sights and sounds. Results: Most players (94%) preferred the 20-line game. PRPs for small credit gains (net losses) in the 20-line game were equivalent, or larger than in the one-line game where such gains were wins. The largest increase in PRP size was between the 0 and 2 credit conditions for both games. Thus 20-line players reacted as though these net losses of 18 credits were rewarding. Players' estimates of the number of true wins were accurate in the one-line game, but they significantly over-estimated the number of true wins in the 20-line game (P < 0.01). Problem gamblers felt more skilful (P < 0.01) and were more absorbed (P < 0.01) by multi-line than single-line game play. Conclusions: Multi-line games appear to be more appealing to gaming machine ('slots') players than single-line games. These games may be particularly absorbing for those with gambling problems.

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