Sunday, May 9, 2010

Seniors and Casino Gambling: Who’s Really Winning?

Across the country, the numbers of seniors visiting casinos are growing faster than any other age group. Casinos are estimated to take as much as 65% of their revenue from those aged 65 and older. Detroit, Michigan has three major casinos that get plenty of business from seniors in Michigan and beyond. They love to take field trips to casinos as a social activity, but is it really just social?

Research from the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University in Detroit causes serious concerns about seniors and casino gambling. Including 1,410 randomly selected adults, aged 60 and older, the study concluded that one in five older adults who enter a casino eventually displays problem gambling behaviors. Peter Lichtenberg, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Gerontology and one of two authors of this study published in the “Journal of Aging Studies” said, “Urban elders are especially vulnerable to problems because higher percentages of them have low income, few social supports, and poor mental and physical health.” Symptoms of problem gambling include compulsive gambling and lying about  time and money spent.

Findings from this study should be taken very seriously, particularly when considering serious health and financial problems among older adults in the future. Expected consequences related to seniors’ increasing participation in casino gambling are “financial loss, the erosion of personal relationships, depression, suicide, substance abuse, and personality disorders.” No winners there.

Full Article Citation:  
Zaranek, R. & Lichtenberg, P. (2008).  Urban elders and casino gambling:  Are they at risk of a gambling problem?  "Journal of Aging Studies," 22, 13-23.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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