RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
University of Waterloo
Professor Kevin Harrigan (PhD) teaches courses in computer science and computer game design at the University of Waterloo where he is a founding member of the Gambling Research Lab. Kevin’s research focuses on the computer algorithms and math used in the design of slot machine games, and identifying how these game design elements may contribute to problem gambling. He has published research and presented on topics including: near misses, unbalanced reels, random number generators, PAR Sheets, reinforcement schedules, losses disguised as wins, and more. He has also created interactive tutorials, movies, and animations to explain how slot machines work. Harrigan works cooperatively on research initiatives with the community, the media, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, bankruptcy trustees, and the legal community.
Classification of Slot Machines in Ontario: Providing Relevant Information to Players
This presentation reports on an ongoing collaborative project between the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation’s Social Responsibility team, the University of Waterloo, and Gambling Research Exchange Ontario. Similar to Nutrition Facts labels on food products that provide consumers with information about calories, fats, and sugars, in this project labels are being put on slot machines to provide players with information specific to that slot machine including the play experience, payback percentage, and bonus round hit frequency.
The project is part of a continuous effort to educate slot players and integrate responsible gambling into the playing experience, and will assist players in making informed choices about their game selection. The slot classification labels will be supported by a suite of communication materials and tools to further enhance players’ levels of knowledge. Data is being collected on players’ understanding of the labels and actual play before and after the labels are installed.
Delegates will learn about the complexities and challenges of providing accurate and meaningful information, the extensive consultations and role of the Gaming Industry, and how the implications of classifying slot games may apply to a number of gambling formats including online, lottery, and bingo products.