LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas casinos are filled with high-tech slot machines. They are flashy. They flicker, and they make sounds gamblers love to hear.
For some people, the fun eventually stops and addiction begins. "It is definitely addictive, especially if you get four aces, royal flush, wow, you win big," said homeless man Brian Wolfe. "Then, you pump it all back in."
Experts refer to compulsive gambling as a "hidden addiction". Newer slot machines may be making the problem worse. In a feature story on 60 Minutes Sunday night, researchers say new versions of slot machines can be "dangerously addictive." Canadian researchers found new machines can make gamblers think they're winning even when they're not.
"It seemed to take a pretty simplistic view of the issue," said UNLV Center for Gaming Research Director Dr. David Schwartz. "Obviously, problem gambling is a huge issue in Nevada, and definitely for the casinos, and most importantly for the people who suffer from it. I think saying, ‘Well, it's the fault of the new machines, and that's why people get addicted,' I think that's really hurting the people who are addicted and need to get help. They don't just need to get away from the machines. They need help with all kinds of gambling."
Harvard Medical School addictions expert Dr. Howard Shaffer also questions the report's findings. "If slot machines caused addictions, then most people who played slot machines would develop addiction, and it's the opposite," he said.
Whether the modern machines get players hooked is still up for debate.
"You have to be responsible," said one Pennsylvania resident. "Part of humanity is that we always gamble, every day, in some way, shape or fashion, no matter what."