Why Are Pokies So Addictive?

Why Are Pokies So Addictive
Why Are Pokies So Addictive

Online gaming machines are widely known as “the crack cocaine” of gambling. Pokies machines are designed to play on many reward mechanisms of the brain.

Thus, gambling can be similar to consuming drugs, as the same neurotransmitters get released when you play.

Check this out – NZ Pokies Create The Worse of Addictions

The Science Behind Gambling

The Science Behind Gambling
The Science Behind Gambling

Gambling, win or lose, triggers a dopamine surge in your brain, making it exciting and potentially hard to stop.

Why People Gamble?

Why People Gamble?
Why People Gamble?

Below are some of the basic causes that lead people to gamble:

1. Economic Reasons for Gambling

  • Hoping to win money to pay bills and debts or support family (especially for Maoris, Pacific Islanders, and Samoans).
  • Desire to catch up financially to the rest of society (especially for Maori).
  • Quick and easy way to win a large sum of money (e.g., Lotto).
  • Among Pacific Islanders, pressure from church or family to contribute financially (fa’alavelave).

2. Personal Reasons for Gambling

  • Excitement and escape from stress, boredom, or depression.
  • Relaxation and socializing (especially for Pacific Islanders and Maori).
  • A sense of control and winning close to big wins encourages continued play.
  • For the Maori, changing lifestyles and the need for stress relief.

3. Environmental Reasons for Gambling

  • Easy access to gambling venues and activities (pokies, Lotto, etc.).
  • Normalization of gambling through advertising and social settings.
  • The appealing atmosphere of casinos portrays glamour and excitement.
  • Easy-to-learn games that cater to different skill levels.

4. Social Reasons for Gambling

  • Influence of friends and family who gamble.
  • Family gatherings are held at venues with gambling machines.
  • Social activity and “night out” with friends or family (especially for women and Pacific Islanders).
  • Pressure to gamble to “save face” among friends.
  • For older adults, it is seen as a form of recreation and socializing.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3519978/

What Leads People to Develop a Problem with Gambling?

What Leads People to Develop a Problem with Gambling?
What Leads People to Develop a Problem with Gambling?

Many things can make someone more likely to develop a gambling problem. These include:

  • Their environment: Easy access to gambling, like having pokies nearby, can increase the risk.
  • Their resources: People with limited financial resources might be more tempted to gamble in hopes of winning big.
  • Their age: Young people and older adults may be more at risk.
  • Their mental health: People with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions might use gambling to cope.
  • Their substance use: People who use drugs or alcohol are more likely to gamble problematically.
  • Their background: Cultural factors and social norms can play a role.
  • Their life situation: Financial hardship or other life stresses can increase the risk.

It’s important to remember that these are just risk factors, and not everyone who experiences them will develop a gambling problem. If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, resources are available to help.

Related post – Gambling is Not a New Phenomenon. It Has Existed Since Centuries.

Why Are Pokies So Addictive?

Why Are Pokies So Addictive?
Why Are Pokies So Addictive?

Pokies, also known as pokie machines, are known for being highly addictive, and this stems from a combination of factors designed to keep players engaged and spending money:

1. Psychological manipulation

Pokies are designed to exploit the brain’s reward system. They use random reinforcement schedules, meaning wins come unexpectedly, keeping players hopeful and engaged in the chase for the next big payout. Even small wins trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, reinforcing the desire to keep playing.

2. Sensory Overload

The machines bombard players with flashing lights, loud sounds, and exciting animations, creating a stimulating and immersive environment that can lead to a loss of awareness of time and surroundings. This can make it difficult for players to stop playing, even when losing money.

3. Non-stop Play

Unlike other forms of gambling, pokies allow for continuous play, meaning players can keep betting and spinning the reels without waiting for a drawn number or the end of a round. This constant action fuels the desire to keep playing and potentially win back losses.

4. Easy Access and availability

Pokies are widely available in pubs, clubs, and casinos, making them easily accessible to a large population. This accessibility increases the chances of someone encountering and potentially developing an addiction.

5. Social Factors

Although pokies are often played individually, the social environment in which they are situated can also contribute to their addictive nature. The sounds and lights of other machines, combined with the potential for social interaction, can create a stimulating atmosphere that encourages continued play.

6. Pokie Machine Trap

Many gamblers fall into the trap of “chasing losses.” They experience a small win early on, which fuels the hope of a bigger win and leads them to bet more. The sunk cost fallacy fuels the belief that because they’ve already invested money, they must continue playing to “get their money back.

It’s important to remember that pokies are designed to be profitable for the establishment, not the player. The odds are always in favor of the house, and prolonged play is almost guaranteed to result in financial loss.

If you or someone you know is struggling with pokie addiction, there are resources available to help. You can seek help from organizations like the Problem Gambling Foundation or Gambling Helpline.

Also readGambling Culture in New Zealand


Gambling is a complex issue with various reasons driving individuals to participate. While the hope of winning money is a common motivator, r factors like economic hardship, social pressure, and the desire for excitement or escape can also be of the essence.

It’s important to recognize the diverse motivations behind gambling and its potential risks. Addressing the underlying causes and promoting responsible gambling practices can create a safer and healthier environment for everyone.

Interesting Read – Pokie Problem Gambling Solved


1. Is gambling legal?

The legality of gambling varies depending on your location. Some areas have strict laws against gambling, while others have legalized and regulated certain forms of gambling.

2. What are the risks of gambling?

Gambling can lead to addiction, financial problems, relationship problems, and even crime.

3. What are the signs of gambling addiction?

Some signs of gambling addiction include Preoccupation with gambling.

Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the same level of excitement
Repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit or control gambling
Lying to family or friends about gambling
Loss of interest in other activities that were once enjoyable
Using gambling to escape from problems or feelings of hopelessness

4. How can I help someone with a gambling problem?

If you know someone with a gambling problem, the best thing you can do is to be supportive and understanding. You can also encourage them to seek professional help.

5. How to fight gambling Addiction?

If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction in New Zealand, there are resources and strategies available to help. Here are some key points:

Gambling Helpline: Call or text 0800 654 675 (toll-free) for confidential advice and support.
Problem Gambling Foundation: https://www.pgf.nz/ This website offers information, resources, and a free self-assessment tool.
Addiction Treatment Services: These services can be accessed through your local doctor or mental health professional.

Support Groups: https://gamblersanonymous.org/ga/?q=address/new-zealand

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.