Seniors and Gambling
Retirement is a time to relax and enjoy the fun things in life. However, with a new chapter comes a new set of circumstances that seniors who gamble may want to keep in mind.
Why are seniors at risk?
Knowledge is the key to keeping gambling fun for seniors. The more you know, the more you can do to help:
- Retired people have more leisure time, which can lead to excess gambling
- Living on a fixed retirement income can make gambling losses hit harder
- Gambling can be seen as a way to escape stress for some seniors dealing with major life changes
- Bus trips to and from casinos are popular activity organized by senior centers. By taking a bus to the casino, seniors cannot leave on their own once they have finished gambling or have gone through their budget.
Are you concerned about someone?
Problem gambling isn’t always easy to see. But if you’re worried about a parent or another loved one, here are some things to look for. Seniors may be developing a problem if they:
- Start spending more and more time gambling
- Lie about how much they’re gambling
- Neglect other responsibilities and obligations
- Ask to borrow money
- Use gambling as an escape
- Believe a big win is just around the corner
How can you help? Talk to them.
The best way to check up on someone is by opening up. Here are some tips to help start the conversation:
- Be direct. If you notice that a loved one is going to the casino more often, ask them why
- Try initiating a conversation about the activities they enjoy. If gambling comes up, take the opportunity to talk further
- Many seniors don’t know where to find help. Let them know about the confidential, round-the-clock support that’s available to them, should they ever need it
- Gamblers can be unrealistic about their chances of winning. Help them understand the real odds of the games they play
Resources for gambling responsibly, including some that may have services specific to the needs of seniors:
- Consider the Voluntary Self-Exclusion program
- Call the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling 24-hour Help Line at 800-426-1234 or visit https://masscompulsivegambling.org/
- Learn about the Outpatient Treatment Centers offered through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Find a self-help group for seniors going through the same problems