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Older Adults and Gambling . Mental Health & Aging Project. Introduction. Older adults have many opportunities to gamble, and often have more free time for gambling than younger people

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older adults and gambling

Older Adults and Gambling

Mental Health & Aging Project

  • Older adults have many opportunities to gamble, and often have more free time for gambling than younger people
  • Casinos offer buses to bring older adults from senior centers and retirement homes; charities offer bingo nights and raffles as older adults' social events
seniors vulnerability to gambling
Seniors’ Vulnerability to Gambling
  • Often dealing with
    • Retirement
    • Death of a spouse
    • Physical and emotional pain
    • Loss
    • Loneliness
    • Lack of social opportunities
    • Time on their hands to gamble
  • Casinos target their marketing strategies to attract more senior patrons
gaming industry
Gaming Industry
  • One of the fastest growing industries in the United States
  • Legalized gambling is a $40 billion a year industry in this country
  • Utah and Hawaii are the only states not currently participating in legalized gambling
gaming industry cont d
Gaming Industry cont’d
  • 125 million people in the U.S. are gamblers (The National Gambling Impact Study Commission)
  • Individuals over the age of 65 represent about 7.2% of this group
  • Estimates that the country has 1.8 million to 2.5 million gambling addicts
elderly gaming
Elderly Gaming
  • Studies indicate that gambling participation declines with age
  • 73% of those aged 18-24 gambled in the past year
  • This figure dropped to 23% for those 65 years of age and older
  • Older adult casino patrons spent, on average, $53.12 each time they gambled
  • More than 500 casinos in operation in 26 states
  • Concerns have been raised about casino gaming as “economic development”
    • Of particular concern is the long-term effect of gambling activities on the development of problem gambling
addiction on the rise
Addiction on the Rise
  • A number of studies indicate that gambling addiction is on the rise among older adults in the United States and Canada
  • Retired adults with disposable income and extra time are particularly vulnerable to legalized and state sanctioned gambling
addiction on the rise continued
Addiction on the Rise (continued)
  • Aggressive marketing tactics aimed at older adults by casinos increase their vulnerability
  • 70% of older adults have gambled at least once in the past year
    • 11% of these gamblers are considered “at risk” of experiencing financial problems due to excessive gambling
addiction on the rise cont d
Addiction on the Rise cont’d
  • Standard of living for retirees on fixed incomes may become seriously affected by problem gambling
  • Younger gamblers have time to recover their losses
    • Older persons who have gambled away their retirement funds have little or no time to start over
why older adults gamble
Why Older Adults Gamble
  • Gambling may provide:
    • Social support to older adults who are often isolated
    • Excitement
    • Entertainment
    • Winnings
    • Challenge
    • A way to pass time
why the elderly gamble continued
Why the Elderly Gamble (continued)
  • Older adults may turn to casinos and racetracks to deal with loneliness
  • Older adults, particularly women, favor slot machines over other games of chance
  • 68% of elderly gamblers preferred slot machines
why the elderly gamble cont d
Why the Elderly Gamble cont’d
  • Reports indicate that slots “have the worst odds in the house”
  • Older gamblers were more interested in the amount of action available, rather than the amount of money won
  • For about 8% it is an addiction that can cost them their retirement nest egg
reasons for concern
Reasons for Concern
  • Targeting of elderly by the gaming industry
    • Older people are “courted” by the gambling industry
  • Marketing strategies
    • Senior citizen discounts
    • Club cards that give 50% discounts on prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs
    • Free transportation and meals
    • Companionship from group outings
reasons for concern continued
Reasons for Concern (continued)
  • Advertising
    • Federal law prohibits casinos from advertising gaming activities on radio and television
    • Exceptions to this rule
      • Excludes Indian tribes that operate casinos
      • State-sponsored lotteries
north dakota gaming
North Dakota Gaming
  • No policies in North Dakota to protect elderly gamblers
    • no policies in place to protect any gamblers in North Dakota
  • Four nationally certified gambling addiction counselors serve the entire state of North Dakota
north dakota gaming continued
North Dakota Gaming (continued)
  • Funding to address emerging gambling problems in North Dakota began in 1997
  • Funding for Gamblers Choice
    • Services include:
      • Treatment program for gamblers and their families
      • Assessments
      • Group and individual counseling
      • Financial counseling
      • Education
north dakota gaming continued18
North Dakota Gaming (continued)
  • Five casinos and the State contribute funds to ameliorate gambling problems
  • Funds are used to:
    • Provide a toll-free helpline
    • Train casino employees to identify problem gambling behavior among patrons
    • Purchase literature for display in casinos
    • Fund referral slots for gambling treatment
where to get help
Where to Get Help

Lisa Vig, Director

1325 11th St S

Fargo, ND 58103

E-mail: lvig@lssnd.org

Phone: (701) 235-7341

Fax: (701) 235-7359


where to get help continued
Where to Get Help (Continued)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA)


  • GA Meetings in North Dakota:


  • Bjelde, K. & Chromy, B. (2005) Casino gambling among older adults in North Dakota: A policy analysis. Unpublished paper.
  • www.camh.net/Care_Treatment/Resources_for_Professionals/Older_Adults/rtoa_gambling_problems.html.
  • www.lssnd.org/htmls/gamblerschoice.asp.