Talking to Seniors About Gambling

Gambling can be a fun, social activity for a lot of seniors. And many find the right balance between gambling and other aspects of their lives, like golf, reading, fishing and family. But the fact is, seniors are faced with some unique factors that could increase their risks of developing a problem with gambling.

Factors may include:

  • Increased leisure time in retirement, which could potentially lead seniors to gamble more than intended.
  • A decline in income brought on by the transition to a fixed retirement budget, which can increase the impact of gambling losses.
  • Major life changes that could lead seniors to gamble to escape other problems.

Spot the Signs

Problem gambling behavior isn’t always easy to see.  But there are certain signs to look out for.  Seniors may be developing a problem if they:

  • Start to spend more of their leisure time gambling
  • Lie about how much they’re gambling
  • Neglect other responsibilities and obligations
  • Ask to borrow money
  • Use gambling as an escape or distraction
  • Believe a big win is just around the corner

Have a Conversation

The best way to check in on the senior in your life is by opening a dialogue.  Here are some tips to help start the conversation:

  • Seniors welcome direct communication.  If you notice that a senior in your life is going to the casino more often, ask them why.
  • Try asking them what leisure activities they engage in.  If gambling comes up, it provides an opportunity to talk further.
  • Many seniors are not aware of the resources available to them.  Let them know that there’s a confidential, round-the-clock support available for them, should they need it.
  • A lot of gamblers misunderstand odds.  Discuss the odds of the games they play.