This activity recreates a gambling experience, allowing young people to explore the feelings and perceptions around gambling. It also provides a practical example for participants to understand the meaning and implications of concepts such as the house edge and chasing losses, and to learn how probability affects one’s chances of winning and losing.1
Pens, a dice, flip-chart, a felt-tip pen
Materials to print:
Dice Game Betting Slips
- Distribute a betting slip to each participant.
- Tell participants that you are going to play a dice game to see what really happens when we gamble against the house e.g. the gambling business behind the gambling game (make sure they have an understanding of the concept of ‘house edge’).
- Explain the rules of the game:
• In order to play, each person pays a ‘virtual’ £1 for every guess they will make in the game, so each participant has to pay £10 for the entire 10 guesses betting slip.
• ‘The casino’ (yourself in this game) will “pay back” £2 for each correct guess.
- Participants now have to guess a number from 1 to 6 for each roll, and write their guesses in the Guess column of the betting slip. Allow them to fill out the entire guess column before the game starts.
- Before starting to roll the dice, tell them that – as a rule of the game – every time they get a correct guess they have to shout out loud something like “Yeah!”, whilst they have to stay silent every time they have a wrong guess.
- Roll the dice 10 times in total. After each roll, participants record what the actual result was in the Result column. Play the game once through according to the rules.
- After 10 rolls, ask participants:
• To write in £2 in the Won column for each time they guessed correctly.
• To add up their winnings (you may want to track this on a flipchart)
- Ask the participants to put up their hand if they won something (most should raise their hand).
Ask participants to remember how much they paid at the beginning to participate in the game (£10 each) and to subtract that amount from the sum they thought they had won (no players should have won).
In the unlikely scenario that a participant actually wins (more than 5 correct guesses), you can ask what some people do after winning money? Answer: usually they spend it immediately gambling again, because of the excitement etc. At which point, you can replay the game until they eventually lose. It is important that, while recreating a gambling experience, participants do not develop a positive association with gambling and understand that, over time, ‘the house always wins’.
- Ask the group who the real winner is. Answer, you (the activity leader, or ‘casino’). It can be useful at this point to work out what ‘the casino’ started and finished with and explain that the profits of gambling companies are based on the losses of people that play.
Some more useful reflective questions:
- Did you initially think you could win? Why?
- Do you think if we played again you could win back what you lost?
- This is called ‘chasing losses’ and can be very dangerous when gambling
- Did you use any strategies (like lucky numbers) to predict the winning numbers? Why?
- The odds were always 1:6 for each number, each time, regardless of the outcome of previous rolls. There are no strategies that a person can use in a game to increase their chances of winning in a game that is entirely down to chance.
- What did it feel like to win?
- How did it feel when you saw other people winning?
- If people only hear about others winning, how might this affect how they view their chances?
- How did you feel afterwards?
- Why do you think that is?
This game can be made more visual and practical with the use of tokens, chips, coins or any physical object that can be won/lost.
It is vitally important that, when playing this game, participants understand that, over time, a gambler will always lose eventually.