Evoking Luck

Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

D'lane Compton

Second Advisor

Vern Baxter

Third Advisor

Pam Jenkins



Gambling is a universal activity, although not a recently studied behavior in Sociological literature. This study uses symbolic interaction, play, and illusion of control theories to examine luck rituals at casino slots. Gamblers were observed through covert participant observations over a seven-month observation period in The casino, and yielded 388 observations. Analysis of the gamblers demonstrated the fact that luck rituals do exist and are used at the slot machines in a casino setting. Luck rituals are associated with participants’ belief in their ability to control the uncontrollable. The illusion of control provides a framework through which the results are discussed. Illusions of control are particularly likely to occur in situations with a high amount of uncertainty. This study showed that more women and African Americans participate in luck rituals than men.


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