Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Electronic Addictions, Las Vegas Style

on January 23, 2023

(Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash)

When people go into a casino, they are mesmerized by the colors, bright lights, and dinging bells of slot machines that, nowadays, look suspiciously like video games. In fact, the video game craze has influenced what kinds of games casinos offer to their customers. The live-action table games are slowly being replaced with interactive video games. Not only is this cost-effective for casinos, but machines can be manipulated to take more of the customer’s money.

But why are people so attracted to the Las Vegas type of bells and whistles that they find in casinos, amusement parks, and video arcades? Why are they mesmerized by these same effects on their video games, computers, and smartphones? Are consumers being trained to use electronic devices like toys – and not just tools for business and communication?

According to an article posted on the Psychology Today website, “the typical American spends about 1460 hours per year on their smartphone” (Brooks, 2019, para. 2). The author attributes this behavior to the variable ratio reinforcement schedule, a conditioning process that draws users over and over again to their electronic devices, and in particular, video games. With the right psychological rewards in place, users can quickly become hooked (Brooks, 2019, para. 3).

In a variable ratio reinforcement schedule, rewards are delivered randomly so that the electronic device user has to use the device more and more in order to get the psychological reward. If the user stops using the device, he gets no reward. But if he keeps going, the reward will eventually be delivered, hooking the user even more (Brooks, 2019, para. 4-5).

Why does this happen? Dopamine is released by the brain when the reward system is activated. A random reward reinforces the reward system further, leading the electronic device user to unconsciously look for the stimulus that delivers the reward (Brooks, 2019, para. 7).

The anticipation and expectation of reward entice the device user to keep using the device and receiving the reward once more . . . over and over again . . . until the user has lost control over his own impulses. Unless the user has strong sales resistance and self-discipline, he may find himself glued to his device, drawn there like a bee to honey. This is why the mental health diagnosis of impulse control has become so pertinent to the abuse and overuse of electronic devices (Brooks, 2019, para. 8).


Brooks, M. (2019). The “vegas effect” of our screens. Psychology Today. Retrieved from


Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

January 7, 2023; January 23, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


36 responses to “Electronic Addictions, Las Vegas Style

  1. kvbclarke says:

    The Las Vegas Effect is a real thing . Thanks for highlighting the risk!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. spwilcen says:

    An interesting read. Perhaps I should re-subscribe to PT. Nah, it’s more fun to watch societal aberrations and postulate on my own the whys and whats. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a long time slot machine gambler in Tahoe region, I miss the old style machines where you put in a silver dollar and dollars fill the tray when you win. We avoid the high tech video style games which are slowly replacing the old ones. But I don’t play video games nor own a smart phone. Casinos are trying to attract the youth, that’s for sure. But surprisingly, I see mostly seniors at slot machines. Once you’ve won a big jackpot, that’s the catch that keeps one coming back, not the bright lights or noise, at least for me anyway. Never been to Vegas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful article. It’s sad that we crave that dopamine rush so much that we can’t live without it. It’s crazy because too much of it can lead to burn out, stress, paranoia, etc. I’m guilty too. I guess I need to rethink things and live better.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. utahan15 says:

    no idea dawn
    hate lost wages
    my ex mother in law lived there
    i can go to wendover
    for same shit
    and i was last there in 1987

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Michele Lee says:

    Fascinating article, Dawn. I appreciate your research, writing style, and the variety of topics you cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my goodness Dawn, this is so spot on. This addiction is like a drug, luring you in on the fantasy of good fortune…just one more time…just one more time! 🎰🎲🃏 Yep, that Dopamine will do you in every time. Great article my friend. 👏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lazarus says:

    Just the other day I was thinking of how phone apps and websites are always fighting for our attention through notifications. Games will remind you of how many lives have been restored or can be bought. Others will tell you how they “miss you”.

    Thanks for this write up

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jonicaggiano says:

    Dawn this is very fascinating and I just had to read it to my husband who does have a game he likes to play and I occasionally will indulge as well. He was also very intrigued with this piece. There are many little rewards along the way. I limit my phone use to three hours a day. However I am on my computer too much. Thank you for this very informative piece. Have a blessed week. Hugs, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the reasons I only blog three times a week now, besides having other things to do, is that being on the computer too much is very unhealthy. It’s bad for your eyes, your heart, your waistline, and your muscles and joints. People were meant to MOVE and not just sit all day. I go through periods when I use my phone a lot, but other than Duolingo, I try to stay off of it as much as possible. I’m glad the article is helpful to you. My husband plays World of Warcraft. Have a blessed day!

      Liked by 2 people

      • jonicaggiano says:

        Amen, boy you are not kidding. Just sitting and writing, reading or playing a game is not good I agree with you. I am on my phone three hours a day. My husband is learning two languages on Duolingo. It was helpful to both of us, a great piece. You have a blessed day as well. Thank you Dawn. 🌹

        Liked by 1 person

  10. balladeer says:

    This is a very worrying situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Huge dopamine release for some Dawn. I haven’t been in ages but some of the shows are great. Good post!! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  12. So true, Dawn. Great article, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. 13rrance says:

    Good day Dawn

    It’s a very nice article, and indeed, the whole pattern
    seem to drift from entertainment to being an addiction!

    I play videogames since, well since they exist actually…
    My father bought me a ColecoVision when I was 6yo;
    A probable way to say sorry kid in divorcing and having
    an affair. But I disgress here…

    For me games where always like books.
    A world where I could evade the other world,
    The one that adult make matters the most.

    Better yet, games give you a part of control
    over your “Pixel” destiny, your Avatar.

    Lately, for maybe 10 years now,
    I have seen all that change,
    little by little. For the worst, now
    many company target children
    in paying to play and evolve said avatar…

    “LOOT BOXES” where the normalization of that,
    and while it is pretty lame, it was not the primal goal
    of the medium. Which ever was to me at least, a form
    of story telling. Capitalism and mainstreaming lead to that
    destroying in part a form of art. Games like “Fortnite” is probably
    a perfect example of that plague. I have seen many young adolescent
    burning their money and their credits to mere esthetics upgrades.

    Many country begin to hold company responsible for loot boxing
    and targeting kids. But still it ain’t enough yet.

    Still we can find so many great exemple of what this
    medium can be as an art form, or even thoughts provoking
    about a vast range of subject… even mental health issue.

    Games like Journey from “That Game Company” or Flowers
    are great exemple of the former, and games like Shady Part of Me
    or Sea of Solitude would prove the latter.

    I thank you for raising that very sensible question of gaming addiction
    and that comparative to videogaming in general.

    Sorry for the very long post, I found your article quite interesting to read.

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Eric says:

    Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay .


  15. Americaoncoffee says:

    Thanks for sharing Dawn. I am very aware of the Vegas casinos with its bright-lights syndrome. Good, good coverage and advice!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. […] Electronic Addictions, Las Vegas Style […]

    Liked by 1 person

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