Gambling in the Golden Years Posted On

Among adults over the age of 65, gambling is often the most common recreational activity.  Many senior citizens centers offer group trips to area casinos and assisted living facilities offer BINGO for cash nights for residents.  Many seniors enjoy gambling responsibly, but there are groups of seniors who struggle with problem gambling.

There are a number of reasons why seniors choose to gamble.  Many seniors gamble for entertainment and recreation.  Gambling is meant to be just that – a form of recreation or entertainment.  Some seniors find that some forms of gambling, bingo and casinos for instance, offer them a chance to socialize with others – an opportunity they may not have at home or in their community.

Seniors Are Unique

For some of us, retirement is a blessing – a time to sit back and relax, or a time to enjoy all of the things you didn’t have time to do earlier in life.  For others, retirement brings with it feelings of unimportance and having no purpose. 

As we age, we also have to deal with more grief, which could bring about struggles with depression and anxiety.  Losing our loved ones and those close to us causes an increasing amount of loneliness.

Another unique factor of retirement is finances.  Some seniors are struggling to make ends meet on a fixed income, and others finally have the resources to do what they want to do – travel, move, etc.

Increased Risk

Gambling fills many of the needs that seniors experience during their life stage.  Many forms of gambling are social and help to decrease loneliness.  Going on trips to casinos or meeting friends for BINGO gives us a reason to get out of the house.  Gambling also offers an escape from reality for a lot of people, seniors or not.  Sitting at a slot machine often lulls gamblers into a “zone” and gets them away for a while.  In addition, some seniors may see gambling as a quick and easy way to make more money – although we know that isn’t the case.

The feelings seniors are experiencing are normal, as is wanting to escape them.  However, anytime gambling is used as something other than entertainment, it can be dangerous.

Staying Safe

If you are, or a loved one, chooses to gamble in their golden years, there are a few ways to enjoy gambling responsibly and to minimize the harm you may experience from gambling.

  • Limit your time, limit your money, and don’t change your mind.
  • When you lose and your money is gone, leave.
  • Always gamble with your friends or family. Gambling alone, or in secret, can be particularly dangerous.
  • If you ever get to a point where your relationships, finances, or physical/mental health are suffering, seek help.

When It’s Not Fun Anymore

Gambling is meant to be used as a form of recreation or entertainment.  If gambling is no longer fun for you, or you’re experiencing negative consequences due to your gambling, get help immediately.

The NYS HOPEline is waiting for your call, 24/7. 

1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369)