In senior communities, one of the most popular recreational activities played is bingo. While you may think of bingo as a harmless pastime, for some it represents a gambling opportunity. For some older adults, bingo and other gambling activities may lead to the development of a gambling addiction and frequently, it goes unnoticed. These games could be bets through cards, slots, lottery, or even scratch-off lottery tickets.
As the world moves forward in the face of the pandemic, it can be seen how seniors are vulnerable to many things, such as not being able to leave their homes due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19, and problem gambling is no exception. It is essential to understand that gambling addiction does not discriminate. Any individual can develop a gambling addiction, no matter their age or gender.
The social isolation that comes with retirement, limitations with aging, and grief after losing a loved one can cause many overwhelming feelings that may also increase the risk of developing a gambling problem. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies revealed that many older adults viewed the casino as a place to socialize and escape from loneliness or grief . Loved ones and caretakers need to be aware of the risk of gambling at an older age. In an American Gaming Association survey, the number of older adults participating in gambling is expected to rise considerably, since Americans over 65 represent the fastest-growing age group. By 2030, this segment of the population is expected to total approximately 71 million, accounting for one in five Americans . It’s good to keep in mind that help and hope are available for anyone suffering from the effects of gambling addiction, including loved ones, through the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine.
How can we help our senior community in prevention of problem gambling?
It’s fundamental to learn the signs!
- Using retirement funds or other savings to gamble.
- Responding with anger and dishonesty when asked about gambling habits.
- Being preoccupied with gambling and neglecting responsibilities.
- Pawning or selling personal items to get funds.
- Needing to wager increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill.
The good news is that gambling addiction is treatable, and there are a wide variety of supports available for older adults to begin on the path to recovery. Many have taken their first steps towards recovery from disordered gambling through the 24/7, confidential, and multilingual 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine. Whether you’re worried about a loved one or your own gambling, you can make a difference in your own life and those of the people around you.
Help and hope are one call away. The FCCG’s 24-hour confidential and multilingual HelpLine may be reached by calling 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321) 978-0555, emailing email@example.com, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or by reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
 Schell, Christina, et al. “Journal of Gambling Studies.” Springer, 2020, www.springer.com/journal/10899.
 Stein, Bill. Older Adult Gambling. www.northstarpg.org/older-adult-gambling/.