James started gambling when he was 12 years old. He and kids from their local neighborhood would get together and play poker when their parents were not around. Eventually it would turn into him stealing from his little sister’s piggy bank and then skip school to go and bet on horses.
James is now 62 living in Florida and states that he has been in recovery for an addiction that stole jobs, college plans, relationships and apartments. It drove him to the point where he tried to commit suicide. Even though he has stated that he hasn’t gambled since his mid-30s, he still talks about how it would feel to gamble.
Increase in Gambling
Since the 1990s, legalized gambling has been spread all over the United States and many older adults have joined the gaming community, even if they did not do so when they were younger. A recent study has shown that 69% of people who are over the age of 61 have gambled within the last 12 months.
Most older adults who are gambling, can do so without there being negative consequences. However, gambling addiction can be a risk for people in this age group, and it can be harder for an older person to see the problem for what it actually is. Older adults have the lowest rate of seeing gambling as something that is treatable and they have the highest rates of seeing it as being bad behavior.
There are some rare instances where a person has developed a gambling problem if they have Parkinson’s disease and are taking Mirapex or Pramipexole.
Casinos in Computers and Smartphones
There is a bigger reason that older people are seeing an increase in gambling problems and it is because any adult is able to gamble now. There has been a huge shift in how accessible and available legalized gambling is and since this is during the time when they are entering into the prime of their lives. They have the time and money to spend on what they want and this means that they could blow their whole nest egg in just months.
The biggest perceptions is that people who are gambling online with smartphones or computers are between 18 and 24. The whole online gaming industry pushes this image and they are not even acknowledging the fact that their players are all over the age of 50.
Catering to the Bathroom
A lot of physical casinos cater to older adults. They even offer discounts on lodging, food/drink and offer transportation. They often see women who are over the age of 50 as being a great customer. The casinos will ensure that their bathrooms are clean. They won’t allow smoking in there and they want it to be very comfortable for women to come in and spend some time. People who are visiting casinos have stated that they are very popular outings and this is for most retirement communities and assisted living centers.
When Is It a Problem?
Gambling will become an issue when you cannot set an amount of time and limit to money spent. Other signs of compulsive gambling are stealing to get money to gamble with, gambling to avoid feelings of depression or anxiety, jeopardizing relationships over gambling, trying to get money back by gambling, lying to others to keep them from knowing that you are gambling, and being preoccupied with gambling.
Even if you are over 50, you can still get treatment. You can get help by calling the Problem Gambling Hotline (800)522-4700.