gambling help

I want to control or reduce my gambling

Most forms of gambling are designed for the gambler to lose and the club to win. The club does not need to "rig" the game for you to lose. If you gamble for long enough you will eventually lose.

Responsible gambling is gambling in a way that is affordable, sustainable and (for most people) entertaining. When people start gambling unaffordable amounts, chasing loses, spending too much time at the club or gambling as a way of making money, they are no longer gambling responsibly.

There are many things that can be done to ensure that you continue to gamble responsibly. Properly understanding how gambling work and making conscious decisions about when to start/stop gambling can assist you to continue gambling responsibly.

Responsible gambling behaviours

Would you like to control your gambling? Here are some suggestions:

  • Set yourself a limit and stick to it
  • Keep a record of your gambling expenditure
  • Organise your day so you don’t spend too much time on the gaming machines
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Don’t gamble alone, bring a friend to the Club or make some new friends there
  • Leave your ATM card at home and just take the amount of cash you intend to gamble
  • Don’t chase your losses. Stick to your limit.

Games of pure chance vs games with an element of skill

Games of pure chance

A game of chance is one where the outcome is completely random where the gambler cannot control or predict the outcome at all.

Common examples of games of chance are gaming machines, Keno, Lotto and Roulette.

Games with an element of skill

In these games you have some control over the outcome of the game and/or better predict the outcome of the game. However, there is also an element of uncertainty.

Commercial games with an element of skill are designed for the gambler to lose in the long term. A person who is "skilful" will lose their money slower than a person who is "unskilful". The common outcome between "skilful" and "unskilful" people in a game of skill is that they will both lose their money over a period of time. Examples of "skills" are predicting which card may be dealt, when is the best time to bet or which team is likely to win based on past performance, weather, line-ups, etc.

Examples of games with an element of skill are sports betting, poker and blackjack.

Random number generator

The heart of a gaming machine (and all electronic forms of gambling) is its random number generator (RNG). This computer program ensures that every game has a completely unknown outcome that is independent of all past and future games. Each time you press the button a unique set of random numbers are generated by the machine (they are not chosen in advance). Each number is represented by a symbol. The random numbers that are chosen determines what symbols are displayed. These random numbers cannot be controlled or changed by the club.

Return to player

The return to player (RTP) is the amount of money that is expected to be returned over many years. Although there are variations in the short term (paying or losing lots of money), the game will eventually pay out money in line with its RTP.

The RTP is dependent on the law of probability. It is calculated by firstly working out the total number of unique outcomes [A] (for roulette there are generally 37 unique outcomes, for many gaming machines there are more than 30 million unique outcomes, for a game of Powerball lotto there are 134,490,400 unique outcomes). Secondly you need to calculate how much money you would need to gamble in order to get each unique outcome exactly once [B]. Thirdly you need to calculate how much money you would win if you got each outcome exactly once [C].

Once you have this information you calculate the return to player as follows: C / (A*B)

Too complicated? It doesn't matter because in a game of chance (such as a gaming machine) you cannot influence the outcome of the game, so understanding how the RTP is calculated will not help you at all.

According to Gambling Help Online the odds of winning the top prize on a typical 5-line gaming machine is 9,700,000 to 1. There is a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the jackpot on a poker machine!

How the return to player works in reality

If a gaming machine has a return to player (RTP) of 90% shouldn't I only lose $1 if I bet $10?

On average if you only play one spin, that will be the case. When you play a gaming machine you are normally playing for many spins. That means every spin you are theoretically losing 10% (not losing 10% in total). So that means on the first spin you lose 10% of $10 ($1), the second spin you lose 10% of $9 (90 cents), the third spin you lose 10% of $8.10 (81 cents) and so on until you lose all of your money.

However, you are not gambling in theory, you are gambling in reality. When you play a gaming machine you often don't notice the  small amounts you win along the way. However, you do not collect this money, but just end up gambling it as well as the money you started with. If you started with $10 it is not uncommon for you to win $10 in small amounts along the way. So when you end up losing the $10 you started with as well as the $10 which was returned by the machine.

Because the RTP is a long term average, some people may win lots or lose all their money in the short term. Let's look at how this works in a simple example of a gaming machine over a period of time. Let's assume 100 people play that gaming machine over a period. Let's assume each person gambles $100. That means a total of $10,000 has been gambled over that period. Everyone except for one lucky person loses their money. The one lucky person wins $9,000. Although everyone but the lucky person lost their money, this gaming machine had a return to player of 90%. The problem is that one lucky person got everyone else's 90% and everyone else got nothing (it is averaged out over everyone playing).

That is why you don't get $9 back when you bet $10.

False beliefs and superstitions

One time I rubbed the gaming machine and won the jackpot so now I rub the machine all the time when I play

The fact that you once won the jackpot after rubbing the machine was purely coincidental. How many times have you rubbed the machine since and still lost you money. The gaming machine is a computer and doesn't know (or care!) if you rub it.

I like to play a bird themed gaming machine so I bring bird seed with me when I play it

The gaming machine is not actually a bird. It is a computer and doesn't know (or care) if you have bird seed with you.

I like to gamble during busy times because I feel I am more likely to win

You are just as likely to win when it is quiet as you are in busy times. When the club is busy more people will be winning simply because more people are gambling. But the flipside of that is that more people will also be losing. Whether the club is busy or not doesn't change whether you win.

I just missed getting the feature by receiving 2 (out of 3) symbols so that means it is going to give the feature soon

There is no such thing as almost getting the feature. The way the random number generator works means that either you get the feature or not. You are just as likely to get the feature if you received 2 or no feature symbols in the previous spin. Because the feature symbol is generally the least common symbol you are less likely to get it than other symbols.

I bet $1,000 and did not get a single feature. The gaming machine is rigged!

The gaming machine is not rigged - in fact it is functioning exactly how it is designed - to take your money over a period of time. You are never guaranteed to get the feature regardless of how much money you gambled.

I stopped playing the gaming machine and then the person immediately after won the jackpot. They won my money!

No they didn't. Just because they won does not mean you would have won if you had kept on playing. In order for you to have won that money you would have had to press the button at the exact thousandth of a second that the other person did. If you pressed it a thousandth of a second after you would have got a completely different outcome (and, therefore, not the jackpot). Think about how difficult it is to press the button at the exact thousandth of a second as someone else - just about impossible!

I like to press the button really quickly or slowly when I play the gaming machine to give me a better chance

How fast you press the button does not affect whether you are more (or less) likely to win. Each spin is completely random and because of this randomness it doesn't make a difference. Lets look at a simple example of tossing a coin. The probability is 50% you will get heads and 50% you will get tails. Do the odds change if you toss it really quickly or slowly? No! The odds remain exactly the same. This is also the case with a gaming machine.

I always see one particular person at the club winning. Why can't that be me?

It is probably a coincidence (or your selected memory) that you think you always see this person win. You are more likely to remember seeing people winning than losing. If this person is gambling frequently enough they are almost certainly losing. Just think about yourself. If you have won a couple of times and someone saw you on those occasions they probably also think you always win. But do you?

If I bet more money am I more likely to win?

No - in fact you are more likely to lose your money quicker. The gaming machine's random number generator does not know (or care) how much money you are gambling. How much money you gamble may increase the amount of money you win if you get the right combination, but it doesn't affect the likelihood of you getting that combination. The downside to this strategy is that it also means you will lose more money if you don't get the right combinaton.

Why does the gaming machine always give a feature when I am down to my last few cents?

The fact that you changed from betting $1 a spin to 1 cent a spin when you ran out of money did not result in the machine giving the feature. It was just coincidental. Gamblers are often more likely to remember the negatives, particularly when they are frustrated from losing their money.

I know that management at the club monitor patrons to ensure certain people (or machines) are more likely to win

Management at the club do not need to do anything to the machines to ensure they are paying or not paying. Gaming machines are designed to make money in the long run. This means that they take more money than they give back. Management know if the gaming machines are played for long enough they will make money for the club and are not concerned if a machine has paid out a lot of money over a short period. Besides, there are strict government controls and monitors on gaming machines making it impossible for clubs to rig them.

Getting help to stop or reduce your gambling

Is gambling no longer fun but you can't stop? Are you in debt because of your gambling? Are you gambling because you NEED to win money? Do you spend too much time gambling at the club? Do you lie about your gambling? Are your family or friends concerned about your gambling?

If you answered YES to any of these questions you may be developing a gambling problem. The earlier you seek help, the better off you are going to be in the long term.

See our Gambling Harm page for information on help and strategies you can use to stop gambling or minimise the harm it is causing.