Gambling may seem like a vice, but addictions to games and apps can be equally risky. Take any time browsing the app store: you’ll likely come across casino-style games that are free but addictively engaging game play mechanics; such apps make it hard to tell whether money is being lost and can make quitting almost impossible.
Natasha Schull is an MIT cultural anthropologist who spent 15 years observing slot machines in Las Vegas. In her book Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas she discusses why these games, which account for three-fourths of casino profits and are highly addictive, create such an immersive and “zoned out” experience which reduces our senses of space, time, and monetary value.
Nir Eyal, an associate professor at the University of Washington who has studied tech addiction for decades and published Hooked. He provided answers that seemed both comprehensive and defensive: gaming addiction doesn’t reach the same levels as gambling; people prone to addiction will get hooked on any technology; slots being particularly seductive because of how they operate.