Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gambling Addiction During Retirement

Recently, several members of our family traveled to Las Vegas to celebrate the 30th birthday of our youngest daughter.  It was also a bit of a family reunion, with three generations of our family present. While walking along the edge of a casino to get to the hotel pool at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, my nine year old grandson asked why so many "old" people liked to gamble!

I think that many of us tend to become less observant as we grow older.  I have become accustomed to seeing casinos filled with silver haired patrons, and didn't even notice how many were present until my grandson said something.  While most of the families that were visiting Las Vegas this weekend were enjoying a beautiful day at the pool or touring some of the fascinating attractions in Las Vegas, the casino was quite busy in the middle of the day with older patrons.  In fact, most of the chairs in front of the slot machines were filled with senior citizens.

Gambling Addiction is a Serious Problem for Senior Citizens

Upon returning home, I decided to research whether gambling addiction is a serious problem for retirees and I was shocked by what I discovered.  According to a Summer, 2009 AARP article, senior women are now the most likely group to develop a gambling addiction.

The same article reported that older people are more likely to develop gambling problems because they no longer work and have more available time.  Many casinos market directly to retirees.  They send buses to senior centers and retirement communities, pick up the residents of these communities, offer them a free lunch or other benefits, and take them to a casino where they spend the entire day.  These retirees then fill the day by sitting at a slot machine and pouring money into it until it is time to go home.  Despite the free lunch and transportation, these trips are very expensive for most seniors.  However, they often go to the casinos because they are bored at home and they want to get out and do something "fun."

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, in an article on,, seniors are one of the fastest growing groups of gamblers.  Those who report that they have recently gambled have increased from 20% to about 50% during the past few decades.  As they gamble more and more frequently, seniors become more likely to develop a gambling addiction.

How to Get Help for a Gambling Addiction

If you, or someone you know, seems to have a gambling addiction, there is no reason to let it destroy your retirement.  Help is available.

You can find out more from Gamblers Anonymous at 1-888-GA-HELPS or

or contact the National Council on Problem Gambling at (800) 522-4700 or

Let's keep our entertainment fun and family friendly, without letting it destroy our lives and our financial safety net.

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