Why Do Senior Citizens Enjoy Gambling So Much?

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Take a glance around your local bingo hall and you will notice one thing – most of the patrons are in their advanced years.  But why is this the case, and what are the reasons why senior citizens enjoy gambling so much?

Visit a casino at any time of day or night, and you are bound to encounter the usual squad of senior citizens clustered around their favourite slot machines.  Naturally, you might have wondered why this is the case and why senior citizens are so drawn to gambling. 

The current generation of seniors is known for their willingness to task risks and are attracted to slot games more than any other demographic group.  But what makes this group so compelled to gamble in the first place? 

Here are a few clues to this dilemma:

The Allure of the Slots and Games of Chance

Slot machines rank at the top when it comes to the overall popularity of casino games.  Two-thirds of casino revenue stems from these machines, and a significant portion of them are played by the elderly.  Most senior citizens who gamble don’t have much spare cash for big bet tables, so slot machines and their low betting requirements end up being their preferred choice.

According to statistics, 38% of senior citizens play these games out of boredom, everyday problems and loneliness.  As a result, the mental stimulation provided by games such as keno and bingo, as well as their socialising factor, make these much loved by the elderly.  Visiting a bingo hall or a casino to interact with like-minded individuals in a similar predicament is an excellent way to deal with these social issues.

When Gambling Becomes a Problem

For many older people who stay alone, are socially isolated and have a modest income, gambling has become a way to fill this void.  According to a systematic review on problem gambling in over 65s, ten per cent have a developed gambling addiction.

Further data reveals that over half of all visitors to in-house casinos are over 50 years of age.  Simultaneously, a recent poll concluded that 70 per cent of Canadian seniors have gambled over the past 12 months.  These figures should set off some alarm bells, especially since gambling problem hotlines are constantly ringing, with grandma and grandpa often being on the other end of the line.

How Do Casinos Target the Elderly? 

An unsettling aspect is the way casinos use statistics to draw vulnerable clientele to brick-and-mortar casinos.  To ensure that retirement funds keep streaming in, casinos use clever marketing incentives to entice older gamblers to spend money.  These include complimentary drinks and meals for over 55s, discounts on shows and concerts, preferred restaurant seating, and hotel room upgrades.  

Even facilities like bathrooms are stocked up with nice-to-haves, such as adult diapers, diabetic needles and disposable receptacles, as well as walkers, wheelchairs and disabled parking spaces, all to cater to older players.

While, on the surface, this might seem like an honourable way to treat the elderly, it is, in fact, preying and targeting these people because of their inherent vulnerability.  For someone who suffers from conditions like dementia, it is easy to gamble away hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single sitting and have no recollection of it the next day.

Even those senior citizens who do not suffer from cognitive disabilities are still at risk of developing a gambling addiction.  Slots are often referred to as electronic crack due to how the brain’s neurons respond when you play them, which closely resembles a cocaine high.  The result is that many of these older players keep chasing that high and placing impulsive bets with far-reaching consequences.

Although there are some advantages of playing at casinos as a senior, there are risks involved. Some claim that casinos only look out for their cash-cow demographic, while others argue that this approach is too aggressive and unethical. As far as we are concerned, it depends on both the casino and the individual, as well as one’s discretion.

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