Is Gambling a New Entertainment for Seniors? How This Affects Them?

Who would you normally associate with being the typical casino player? Some might say that in terms of demographics, this would include men and women under the age of 50 who like games of chance and of course, winning when their luck strikes! However, there is a new demographic that has recently arisen on the casino scene and these are our silver-haired seniors. They’ve been lured in by casinos all around the world as a new demographic target market, and in this blog post, we’ll show you why more seniors are stepping up to the plate and going gambling.
Cartoon - Elderly People Playing Slots at a Casino Share on Pinterest

The Positive Sides of Gambling Among the Elderly

The elderly are a group that is often misunderstood. They carry years’ worth of wisdom, knowledge, and experience and can teach us a lot about life. Grandma and grandpas’ stories are often a favourite among young children. But what we sometimes tend to take for granted is the fact that they, too, have a life of their own entertaining deep feelings just like any other human being. Over the last few years, with the rise of land-based and online casinos, the elderly has become an interesting choice of demographic that these casinos have targeted.

“Drawing them in by offering personalised discounts, free transportation, and an environment that is very easy for those with disabilities to navigate are some of the positive points that have focused on to draw in this interesting demographic.”

Other casinos offer mobility devices such as scooters or wheelchairs, while others even offer oxygen, creating a “sense of belonging” for some of our senior citizens.

Although this may sound like a strange statement to make, given the fact that sometimes there is a social stigma around gambling with some referring to it as a ‘sin’, there are some very beneficial aspects to this activity. Apart from the overarching economic gains that governments can benefit from in the forms of taxation and income-generation, there are a host of positive elements associated with gambling. In this blog post, we’ll look at the social element, brain exercise with table games, entertainment, and gambling as a source of fun. We’ll also take a look at some of the risks associated with gambling among the elderly populations, so stay tuned for a series of interesting sub-themes.

The Social Element That It Brings

Many sources say that gambling has positive effects for people and that for the elderly, gambling can be a form of therapy where they can socialize and interact with their fellow elders. As is common among many elderly people, loneliness can strike in big time with the loss of a loved one making social events that much more important. In addition to addressing loneliness, it can also help to alleviate feelings of uselessness as they no longer undertake work that they find meaningful due to their retirement. Many bingo halls and operators are an excellent source of social entertainment for the elderly as they meet up with friends and have a chance to play their favourite games, whilst at the same time, having the opportunity to win some cash. Friendships can be formed over bingo, slot, and table games, too, and this is just one of the excellent qualities of gambling as it can bring people together, irrespective of their age.

Elderly People Playing Table Games

Brain Exercise with Some Table Games

Many retirees wonder what to do with their free time after their retirement, and some often turn to books and crossword puzzles. Others may find other ways of dealing with their free time such as gambling. Another positive element of gambling is that it has the capacity to keep brains active for longer. According to Quora, “gambling is an activity that seems to work well in keeping the mind young in many people around the world.” A game of skill will exercise the brain and help keep the mind active and working. As is typical of the ageing process, as we get older, we stop using parts of our brain and these areas become weaker and can “lead to faster senility,” but playing slots, table games, and bingo, among many other casino offerings, can help reverse that process and keep the elderly’s minds sharp, active, and focused.

A New Form of Entertainment

Apart from keeping their minds fresh and active, gambling can be a true source of entertainment for the elderly. Organised tours are often formed for the elderly to visit casinos and gambling can be a source of a significant form of entertainment in a typically dull and eventless day. This is especially true for the elderly who live in old age homes or those who live by themselves. Gambling can also be a fun family activity where family members come together to play a game of poker or roulette at a family member’s home.

“Winning real money or just plain poker chips can be a serious form of entertainment that can keep boredom away.”

As said by Quora: what is the difference between losing $200 at a casino and spending $200 on expensive tickets for a show or sporting event? You still have fun, right?

Bringing in a Sense of Fun

A video posted by Urban Leak that went viral recently showed an elderly couple bringing down their best moves and dancing to an old-time favourite song at a casino, closing down the casino floor. This means that the elderly like to have fun, too, as strange as this may sound to some. The elderly couple jumped at the chance to show off their dance moves on the casino floor and really entertained all the visitors at the casino, showing that they could have a good time. The casino can, therefore, be a source of great fun for the elderly where they can let their hair down and enjoy their youthful emotions without limitation.

The Negative Side – Associated Risks of Gambling

While we’ve covered some of the main benefits of gambling for the elderly, we would be irresponsible if we didn’t also focus on the risks of gambling. After all, we’re talking about a serious subject of money. When they retire, the elderly usually tend to have their pensions, possibly some retirement savings, and their immovable property as financial assets. On the other hand, they no longer have a disposable income that they can rely on as they are unable to get back into the workforce. Therefore, money and the elderly is a very sensitive topic. Problem gambling could mean the depletion of already finite resources that can cause a lot of heartache for an elderly person and their family.

Let’s look at some statistics: 2% of older Americans are pathological gamblers, 4% are problem gamblers, and 17% are at risk, according to research by the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey and Fairleigh-Dickinson University. Calls from seniors to the councils’ hotline have increased from 13% to 16% since a 2006 study. Women are more susceptible to gambling problems than men “because they use games of chance as a means of escape from bigger personal problems.”

So, why do some elderly people opt for gambling? According to sources, problem gambling often starts soon after a life transition. This could include the death of a spouse or retirement, inactivity, bereavement, failing health, loss of purpose, social isolation, depression, loneliness, dementia, and often, no one to hold them back. There is also the concept of “grief gambling” that’s been pushed around. Gambling is seen as attractive by the elderly as it tends to promise instant wealth, excitement, and glamour. Moreover, casinos have made it easier for the elderly to enjoy their experience at casinos even more.

According to the Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling, there are several reasons why seniors gamble. These are:

  • Social interaction
  • The perception of safety
  • Emotional escape
  • Excitement and living on the edge
  • Independence
  • Self-esteem boost
  • Several small or even large money winning ‘episodes’.

As with all things in life, we need to ensure a balance in what we do and this relates to gambling. Yes, it can be fun, it can be a form of social interaction, entertainment, and even good for the brain, however too much of a good thing can be bad and we want to avoid a situation where we see destitute elderly people who have gambled their life savings on a slot or bingo game. Therefore, enjoy yourself smartly and wisely. Set limits to your betting and if you feel that you’ve sunk in a bit too deep, try the self-exclusion principle or call a hotline for help. There are many organisations who are ready to assist with problem gambling.

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