Older Adults & Gambling

Older Adults Fact Sheet

  • 2006 New Jersey study indicated 23% of citizens over 55 were disordered gamblers with 17% at risk, 4 % problem gamblers and 2% pathological gamblers. Disordered gamblers spend 6 times more than
    safe gamblers on lottery and 3.5 times more in casinos. Slot machines most frequently listed type of gambling. 3 most cited reasons for not gambling were no fun or interest, possibility of loss and ethical/moral
    concerns (New Jersey Senior Gamblers Study)
  • 2005 Pennsylvania study found 10.9% of elderly (over 65) patients in primary care facility were at risk gamblers (Levens et aLI 2005)
  • Seniors are fastest growing group of gamblers between 1974 and 1989 (Gambling Impact and Behavior Study 1999)
  • Seniors gamble for social interaction, emotional escape, excitement of living on edge, independence, self esteem and monetary winning episodes (Arizona Compulsive Gambling Council)
  • Older adults are considered at increased risk due to factors unique to that population, such as loneliness, isolation, physical or mental illness; additionally, in one study of older adults, the most likely
    reported motivations to gamble were relaxation, boredom, passing time and getting away for the day (McNeilly & Burke, 2000)
  • Among adults over 65 years of age gambling is the most frequently identified social activity (McNeilly & Burke 2001)
  • Some older adults may have cognitive impairment that interfere with their ability to make sound decisions
  • Many older adults may not understand addiction, making them less likely to identify a gambling problem; additionally, older adults appear less willing to seek assistance for a gambling problem than younger adults
  • Some studies have shown that recreational gambling may increase socialization and cognitive ability for senior gamblers

Created Jan 2007

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