History, traditions

One-handed terror

Arcade games prove to be harmful

Nowadays, arcade facilities are nowhere to be found, except in Taiga, perhaps. In towns and especially cities they multiply like rabbits. It has a very simple explanation: arcade business is one of the most profitable ones. Investments are minimal and the return is high.

1350 rubles will be enough to open such establishment; the actual machines cost about $3000-4000 USD. The inputs are recompensed in half a year, if the arcades are located in a not so “convenient” place. If the place is convenient, they are recompensed three times quicker. The cast shows that every month this small machine brings its owner from $500 to $2000 dollars, and that is without meaningful expenses on its support. Moreover, with the help of simple manipulations the owner can shorten the period of earning big.

 
However, the producers of the machines and owners of such arcade halls are not eager to reveal their secrets to anybody.

- All our production is certified, - said director of one of the arcade production and distribution enterprises to an “interlocutor”. – The cardboards with the record of the game program are certified. They undergo strict examination. We also have to make sure that the winnings are not lower than the legislatively defined quota.

The legislation specifies that the winnings should not be less than 80 % of the stakes. That means that a businessman’s profit should not exceed 20 % of coins dropped into the metal box. The machine is programmed in the following way: if a person does not win for a long time, the effect of fortuitousness becomes disconnected and the machine gives away a prize combination.

According to the experts, all of these techniques are rather well-protected from hackers. However, we’ve been secretly informed that a number of masters who can “correct” the percentage of winnings at one’s wish is more than enough. There is certainly a risk that supervisors will find it out, but the risk is rather minimal. One cannot see at once what kind of program is in the chip, and in order to withdraw one or two machines for checkup one must have serious reasons. This is what the owners successfully use catching credulous fortune hunters.

In spite of all that, the number of those hunters is increasing probably quicker than the number of gaming halls. Many of them tend to forget a well-known rule that only the casino is always a winner. Physicians have already sounded the alarm: game is a morbid hobby, or in scientific language ludomania, has already become an epidemic. Only in Moscow there are about 300 000 “game-addicts”. By the way, ludomania is on the list of International public health organization as a mental disease.

- Like alcoholics and drug addicts, players can spend days in the playing halls, - says Vladimir Voloshin, head of treatment and rehabilitation Center of stress problems. – They lose everything, they get into debts, they sell their property only in order to continue playing. They may start pilfering money. When they stop their game they get into depression.

Admonitions and reproaches will not help a person suffering from ludomania – one cannot do without experts’ help in these cases. Physicians suggest to solve this problem at the legislative level. That means reducing the number of playing houses. Nowhere on earth are there such favorable conditions for arcade gaming industry as there is in Russia. Even at the neighboring Ukraine one must pay 30 thousand euros a year for the license.

However, the elected representatives of the people do not hurry to toughen the control over gambling business – the bill has been “hanging” in the Duma for more than two years. Maybe our deputies are using the “one-handed mob” services themselves?

Mikhail Jakovlev, “Sobesednik”

Translated by: Irina Alexeyeva