The Panoscope 360 in action!

The University of Guelph research project using the SAT Panoscope 360 received National press coverage.

A Guelph University research project using the SAT Panoscope 360 receives National press coverage

Problem Gambling Focus of New Research Lab

January 07, 2008 – News Release

A group of University of Guelph professors has opened Ontario’s first comprehensive gambling research laboratory dedicated to studying the behaviour of people in casinos.

The facility, supported by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre, officially opens today. The University community and general public are invited to an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. at the lab, located at 824 Gordon St.

Equipped with leading-edge technology, the research lab is the first to have a Panoscope 360, a panoramic virtual-reality viewer that displays a full 360-degree cylindrical image, giving the effect of standing in an actual casino.

This technology will allow researchers to study how the environment affects a person’s gambling behaviour and, more specifically, what design elements can be included in a casino that will encourage people to gamble responsibly.

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Slotting amblers

Adrian Humphreys, National Post
Published: Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It must be human nature, that thrill and surprise sparked when spinning symbols on a jingling, flashing slot machine suddenly stop, all lined up, and an electronic tune and the clunk of dropping coins denote a jackpot win.

Even Rita Sterne, manager of a new problem gambling research laboratory, let out a celebratory yip when her test of a bank of slot machines came up lucky.

Understanding that odd delight and, more importantly, the even odder drive that, in some, leads to the persistent stuffing of coin after coin into the machines beyond all semblance of reason are the focus of a new university research laboratory designed to simulate the flashy, noisy casino environment.

In the basement of a commercial building in Guelph, 90 kilo-metres west of Toronto, researchers from the University of Guelph unveiled yesterday Ontario’s first comprehensive gambling behaviour research lab.

“Since the casinos wouldn’t let us inside to do our research there, we had to build this,” said Karen Finlay, a professor in the university’s Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies.

The lack of co-operation from casinos in Ontario and Las Vegas is not surprising since the goal of the lab is essentially to undo all of the science that casinos use to keep people inside, compliantly pumping money into the house bank.

The fact the lab is in a basement is not a shrewd budgetary move, for instance. Like a casino, they wanted no windows or clocks. Reminding gamblers how long they have been inside — such as seeing the sun go down or looking up at a clock — is something casino operators never want to do.

The Problem Gambling Research Lab, funded largely by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre, features two rooms, each studying behaviour in different gambling environments. One looks at the big picture, the other the nitty-gritty.

In one room is a bank of eight slot machines that were bought used in Nevada for $30,000. (Oddly, when the machines were opened up, tokens from Casino Windsor were found inside.)Here, Dr. Finlay and her colleagues study the impact of the machines on problem gambling behaviour. This gives the micro view.

Next door is a more unusual contraption: a Panoscope 360, developed at the University of Montreal. This is a white dome, almost four metres in diameter, that envelopes a person while a full 360-degree cylindrical movie is projected all around them, producing an effect similar to walking through an actual casino. This is the macro view.

The creation of the 360-degree casino footage was a challenge. It needed to be secretly taped inside various casinos on high-definition video through a special 360-degree lens.

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