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Older Adults and Gambling

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

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  1. Older Adults and Gambling Mental Health & Aging Project

  2. Introduction • 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. Casinos • 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. Where to Get Help • GAMBLERS CHOICE Lisa Vig, Director 1325 11th St S Fargo, ND 58103 E-mail: lvig@lssnd.org Phone: (701) 235-7341 Fax: (701) 235-7359 www.lssnd.org/htmls/gamblerschoice.asp

  20. Where to Get Help (Continued) • Gamblers Anonymous (GA) www.gamblersanonymous.org • GA Meetings in North Dakota: www.gamblersanonymous.org/mtgdirND.html

  21. References • 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.

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