Senior Citizens Are They Becoming Compulsive Gamblers

Does casino gambling prey on the poor and the elderly? The slot machine is where all serious casino gamblers get their start. There’s no skill involved, so it’s a perfect fit for beginners as well as seniors. There’s no such thing as an “expert” slot player. They don’t exist, simply because the game is nothing but luck; no skills whatsoever are needed to play.

Gambling by senior citizens has surged in states that have legalized and glamorized various forms of wagering such as state lotteries, bingo racinos, slot parlors, and casino gambling. For most seniors, gambling is entertainment, pure and simple. It’s a chance to escape with friends, get away from day to day stress and have fun. Winning money is a bonus, not the primary objective. Most seniors who gamble continue to take care of their health and financial obligations.

Even critics of the gambling industry concede that casinos make seniors feel welcome. Surveys indicate that casino outings are the most popular day trip for retired Americans, and the data shows that the vast majority come to casinos for the social interaction. Fun and entertainment, not gambling, is their primary motivation. Seniors see casinos as an “inexpensive day out” for someone on a fixed income. If you’ve been to a casino lately, you’ve no doubt seen them–senior citizens piling out of buses and dashing for the slot machines.

The desire to fill their time with a fun and exciting activity is just one factor that makes older adults particularly vulnerable. For many, the sedentary nature of casino gambling, sitting behind a slot machine, is something they can still do. As a result, gambling is pgslot888 seen as a method of improving self-esteem in the elderly who are once again “included in the action” of a society that tends to exclude them and hide them away.

But some older residents may gamble to excess after the death of a spouse or after retiring and losing the sense of worth they felt when they were working. They may have outlived many friends and family members or be separated by large geographical distances from children. For a growing number of seniors, gambling is a losing enterprise. More time and attention are needed as the gambler attempts to win back what he/she has lost. If the losses continue, the gambler may sell possessions or property to cover expenses, or seek risky or high-interest loans.

Problem gambling is a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to play more frequently, a loss of control when gambling, or irritability when attempting to stop. Compulsive gambling is not gender-specific. The percentage of female gamble is on the rise. Most women tend to be escapist gamblers. They seem to prefer casino, lottery and Bingo types of gambling.

Experts on compulsive gambling are alarmed. They worry that senior gamblers, many of whom are on fixed incomes, are more vulnerable to financial devastation than younger gamblers and less willing to seek timely help for addiction. A 35 year-old can recoup their losses over time. But when a 65 -70 year old loses everything, they’re done. They may not be able to recoup the financial loss and their lives crumble in front of them. Senior gamblers merit special attention because the consequences of compulsive gambling can be so severe.

For many suspected reasons (age-related cognitive decline, boredom, and underlying depression), older adults seem to be more vulnerable to problem gambling than other age groups. Most seniors gamble wisely, but as with other groups, we know that a certain percentage will develop gambling problems. Since there is a greater number of senior citizens who participate in gambling, that means there is a greater number who develop problems.


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