Speech Amsterdam Conference & Exhibition, June 14th

Speech Amsterdam Conference & Exhibition, on June, 14th.


My name is Mike Tamm, I am from Germany and in our industry for over forty years, over 20 years as a slot game designer. Before I was a CEO of play halls, I created and organised big PR and promotion events in Germany with a huge resonance in newspapers, radio, and television, I did training and so on. That’s the reason, why I am here today. I know something about all three aspects of our industry:

The business aspect
The gamblers aspect
The science aspect

Oh, let me not forget to tell you, why I am able to see slot games from the view of the gamblers. I am a gambler for 45 years, too.

Maybe, that you understand now at once why I am interested in the science, it is caused by our opponents. They have a huge influence and rely on science but they are not right. And first of all, they are not only opponents of our industry, they are in truth opponents of the gamblers, too.

The gambler aspect is exactly the reason why I stand here and try to tell you something about the most important side of gambling and the most dazzling, of course. The name of my speech is: What Gamblers want.

Let us ask, firstly, what the persons want, who are climbing mountains, running 50 miles, drinking a lot of alcohol, playing football and so on.

Asking somebody, the most answer you will hear is: for fun. Therefore, the companies that make stuff for climbers, runners, alcohol drinkers and so on should have to stick coloured pictures to the equipment – fun pictures?

They do not. So, why does our industry do so? First answer: because a slot is a game and gambling is close to gaming. But there is also a difference between them like we all know. The first gambling machines were not that coloured, and the roulette, baccarat, and poker today aren’t also.

Let me ask you: Do we take our customers seriously and treat them like adults? Our customers are as well intelligent people, having great success in their jobs, for example.

So what’s the reason for childlike looking slots? Is it the new generation? No, we all read the articles which search for ideas to win the millennials.

Is it that a lot of women play slots? Maybe, I don’t know, but I do not believe it. My experiences in the German market were that the entertainment aspects never led to blockbusters. It was the first product of the great pioneer Paul Gauselmann, who refaced the German market with Merkur, really a blockbuster in Germany and from somebody called ‘potato box’.

I learned from that: a slot has not to look great to become a blockbuster. The more the appearance is simple and harmless, the greater the chance of becoming a blockbuster. There are reasons for this ….. and if you want to know more, please ask me for that personally.

Gambling is a typical adult game. It’s a game with very simple rules and very different to other games. Gambling has the possibility to increase the drama by changing the own behaviour additionally. This core of gambling produces the problems, by the way, because it’s like holding hands over a fire. The logical consequence is that sometimes it happens that hands get burned.

This is the first point referring to the question: What do gamblers want? They are adults and they want a typically adult game with drama aspects.

They want to win …………. and to lose. Gambling is not for having fun in the world and not for the waiting for winnings and be just satisfied with them. For that, there is a lot of other and cheaper stuff. Gambling is risk taking and by the way, this is climbing, too, but running (prove your own body), alcohol (it’s a drug) and football (a sports game) are it not.

Gambling is stress and excitement, based on emotions like victory feeling, relief, gladness, anxiety, desperation, frustration and much more. And if one asks ‘what do gamblers want?” one of the first answers has to be: exactly that: victory feeling, gladness, anxiety, desperation, frustration and …. coolness, remorse, hope, insecurity, loser feelings, fighting spirit, foreshadowing … and much more.

Playing a slot game might look like a boring: spin, spin, spin, spin. But inside the gamblers there are these just listed emotions, emotions changing their face from one minute – even one second – to another.

By saying this, I am telling you a lot about my philosophy of slot game design work. There is a need for gamblers to gamble and I try to satisfy them and I do not try to lead them astray.

In Germany, the Disk was the greatest blockbuster ever. I asked many gamblers at that time, what the reason for their favouritism is. The answer was astonishing. They said: This machine is fair. But don’t think they meant the other games to be unfair. The word fair, in this case, means that they had the feeling of a good chance to win.

And here we are at the third point. The first point was a typical adult; second the inner automatic search for emotions. And the third point is the expectation that they have a fair chance to win, and that means also that the games should become more transparent than today for them.

Why? Gambling is risk taking. But if a human being wants to take a risk, he wants to know something about the probabilities at the same time. Trying to assess the probabilities somehow, allows risk-taking – that means also, to be careful or careless with the own money. All gamblers practice both. Do not think that gamblers play carelessly all the time. They only sometimes move their hands completely over the fire. To give them more information means to give them more excitement.

Risk taking is the real motivation for gambling and it arises from the basic motivation for all types of playing: learning – this describes shortly the sense and the benefit of playing overall. Of course, gambling is much more dramatically than playing, the range of differences corresponds with climbing a hill and climbing a mountain like the Mount Everest.

Looking at the world and seeing the social online casinos makes clear that the gambling industry is on course to both: gambling in the old manner and gambling with a big focus on entertainment. This is not such a bad way because it opens the door for a gambling that is less dangerous. But on the other side, we know this is clearly not the best way to get the next generation thrilled. And let me add this: In my opinion, the slot game industry is also not on the way to win the best type of customers: true gamblers.

I told you what gamblers want: risk taking. And I can tell you, what the main motivation is: it’s confrontation with fate and the unconscious search for learning effects with the goal to get a better handling of the world’s most ignored problem, called ‘coping with fate’.

But I can not tell you what exactly to do for satisfying gamblers. Let me explain it by this: If a football player shoots a really fantastic and outstanding goal, he cannot say to another person how he did it in a manner that this person can repeat it. The capability to make similar things is called know-how. Know-how is a doing by experience without the conscious control through the mind.

Let me say this in other words: It is a going without exactly knowing the aim, only with having the experiences of older successes in the remembrance.

Why did I explain this so detailedly? The reason is, our industry has a big and not that comfortable problem: small reputation, moral attacks and restricting laws again and again.

In my opinion, we have to do the same like gamblers do – to take risk.
Three starting points for that, quickly:

– More knowledge about the gamblers – by survey
– More arguments for the benefit of gambling – we will know them better after the survey
– More responsibility – finding out what the real problems are and solve them

Now we have reached the fifth point of ‘What gamblers want’. I think they want that we all have a better reputation in the society. Of course, first of all, they want that their behaviour would be better understood and – in the best case – be completely accepted.

One word again, on the quick. If you think gambling can be addiction then we will lose. An addiction problem is not to solve, only to downplay or to weaken. This is a really sharp weapon in the hands of our opponents. It is that sharp because in the opinion of a lot of people all kinds of behaviour can lead to addiction, therefore, this mysterious “loosing-only-money-behavior” called gambling above all. If you think, the problem is called pathological gambling the situation is not getting better.

Instead of that and in my opinion, the factual problems are three:

– There are situations in which one or another gambler cannot stop playing – this is a personal emotional problem and every gambler can learn to master it. By the way, this declares also why many gamblers never lose their control and why some gamblers with problems learn it without any help. Take it from me, I watched many gamblers during different situations, among them also behaviour changes from one day to the other.

– Guilty conscience. This is also a personal emotional problem. And it is a problem which can lead, like a circle, to more and more gambling, for example, forcing wishes to get lost money back.

– Bad reputation. No human being loves having a behaviour about which other people are judging badly. Thinking gambling stands outside of the society produces things which look like standing outside of the society – and, of course, nobody checks that carefully.

Final words.

These are the five points I said that gamblers want them:

An adult game
A game which stimulates the emotions for what they long
A fair and transparent game
More information
Better reputation

Not only from the viewpoint of a designer there are more aspects, for example, the longing for real winnings. A real win situation is, if a balance is greater than the money paid in. Another interesting point.

But my time is over. We can discuss these points personally. I will stay here during the next hours. We can talk also about my projects, for example, the book project “Controlled Playing’, the pioneering work Gambling entertainment, modern Online Casinos how should they look like and more. If you are interested in my thoughts, then also visit my website miketamm.com.

For this moment

Thank you very much for listening to me and have a great day further.