Senior Citizen Gambling is a Serious Problem because casinos are specifically targeting the elderly. In an article in AARP, October, 2016 it was noted that in 2014, half of the 101 million people to visit a casino were age 50 or older.
Senior citizens are spending their life savings gambling. Lured in by promises of free meals, free rooms in the hotel, and other bells and whistles. We all know those things are not really free. Our elderly are paying by spending their money at the gambling tables and on the slot machines.
Why and how Seniors are Targeted
- they keep the casino floors full during the day
- they are offered free drinks, breakfast, and lunch
- casinos are providing wheelchairs and diapers to keep the elderly at the casino
- there was one casino that had an onsite pharmacy and gave gambling credits when prescriptions were filled.
- the design of slot machines purposely set up to target women
Senior Citizen Gambling is a Serious Problem
Slot machines are referred to as “electronic crack.” Therapist have explained that the brain’s neural circuits are fired up while playing slot machines similar to what happens when a person smokes crack. Which makes slot machines highly addictive for those predisposed to certain conditions.
I have been reading a lot about dementia due to a family members condition and was startled to read that people with dementia are highly stimulated by the action of pushing the buttons on a slot machine over and over. Don’t think that everyone with early signs of dementia have been diagnosed and getting help.
The sad part is that there are many senior citizens who do not have family to monitor their behaviors. According to American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging, 4% of older adults do not have family and friends to assist them. They are actually referred to as, “the unbefriended elderly.”
How to Recognize a Gambling Problem
- Gamblers Anonymous has an online 20 question assessment tool you can use to determine if a loved one or yourself is a compulsive gambler
- Pay attention to behaviors like lying about gambling or attempts to avoid discussion about gambling
- Was there a budget for gambling that is now being exceeded. Example: $20.00 was once enough to have a good day gambling now it takes $50.00 to reach that same feeling.
- Where is the money coming from to gamble? Has the person gone from using extra money to making withdrawals from savings accounts?
- Pay attention to signs of lack of interest in activities that were previously important.
- Mark Stacy a neurologist at Duke University states gambling can be a side effect of some medications. Be aware of changes in behavior related to new or current prescriptions.
Thousands of our elderly that now have a gambling addiction do not understand addiction. They start out seeking something to distract them and get them through the day. Many of these seniors have never had an addiction problem and are people that planned for retirement their whole lives. Losing their financial freedom is not in the plan. Can you imagine how scared they are when all their finances are gone?
There is a lot of shame attached to finding yourself penniless. That is why the elderly will keep their loses a secret and go without help until it is too late.
It is not against the law how the casinos are targeting the elderly. However, it is immoral because they are aware of the problem they are contributing to with this special population. Like our children our elderly need to be protected.
For information on how you can help contact the National Problem Gambling Hotline.
If this were happening to an elderly member of your family or friend do you think you would recognize the signs? As you read this did someone come to mind that you think may need help?
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