Flashing Lights, Loud Noises in Casinos Might Encourage Problem Gambling, British Columbia University Research Suggests

New research out of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada suggests that all the blinking lights and dinging bell-like noises in casinos may be as problematic as they are stimulating. A study from UBC researchers indicates that these time-honored basics of casinos everywhere could play a key role in promoting risky gambling behavior.

The findings were recently detailed in the neuroscience journal JNeurosci, and indicate that the visual and sonic overload people experience when walking through a casino could be a significant factor in  promoting problem gambling.

Risky Business

The study was prompted by previous research at UBC which found that rats were more prone to risky decision-making when flashing lights were added to the equation. Scientists wanted to see if the same behavior held true in humans.

A portion of the 131 participants were given a video game to play in a quiet environment. The rest played the same game, but with all the bells and whistles you’d find while playing a slot machine in a real casino.

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