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Old age is traditionally associated with wisdom. Parents from early age tell their children: "Listen to what the elders say to you,"  drilling into the mind of offspring the postulate of the unconditional rightness of adults. However the older you become, the more clearly you understand that older people make mistakes and commit stupid acts as often as reckless teenagers.

As an illustrative example, we can pay your attention to such a hobby of old people as gambling. Look at casinos in Las Vegas. You can notice a lot of gray-haired visitors who are fond of playing video slots or are crowded around the craps tables, not to mention bingo halls that are full of pensioners.

Gambling houses on the territory of the former Soviet Union have never experienced lack of old customers. High-ranking police officers, retired army officers, respectable directors of enterprises, politicians of different levels, prosperous businessmen over sixty years of age are typical guests of casinos. Some of them bring their children and even grandchildren with them, turning visiting gambling facilities into family activities.

How dangerous is gambling for old people? Why do they go to casinos? Are they able to control themselves when gambling? What are consequences of gambling for them? The answers to these and other questions can be found in our article below.

Some Statistical Data

Let's start with some thought-provoking statistical data. We want to quote a report of the National Council of Problem Gambling:

Old people are one of the fastest-growing groups of gamblers. Between 1974 and 1994, the percentage of seniors who "had recently gambled" increased from 20% to 50%. It has been recently reported that gambling is the most frequently mentioned social activity of people over 65 years of age. In the list of priorities, casinos and bingo were ahead of movies, lunches, shopping, and golf.


In 2006, the New Jersey Study carried out a research that showed unexpected results:

23% of the inhabitants of the state over 55 years have signs of problem gambling.

David Oslin, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, also provides some interesting data:

In 2005, about 9% of individuals over 65 years of age spent more on gambling than they could afford.

Well, the data are really shocking. Many people will surely assume that this problem concerns only pensioners from developed countries with the high income of citizens. It is believed that the average senior from emerging countries has never visited casinos and can afford to buy at most several lottery tickets once a week.

This statement is partially true, but it is worth mentioning card games that do not require special equipment and dealers. We are talking about bridge, canasta, solitaire, and preferans. In addition, modern seniors have mastered the Internet, where they have faced advertisements of online casinos and other types of gambling.

Therefore, do not ignore this problem. It is possible that your old relatives will unpleasantly surprise you one day.

Why Do Old People Gamble?

There are many reasons why old people visit casinos. Let's enumerate the major ones:

  • Search for communication - Casinos are often visited by people who have lost their spouses in their declining years or just miss their children. Thus, they can communicate with other visitors or staff. This is the main reason for the popularity of bingo halls among seniors, where dozens of people participate in draws.
  • Activity of operators - Casinos attract senior citizens offering free drinks, transfers and coupons, special events and prizes that seem to be interesting to the older generation.
  • Escape from problems - Gambling helps old people to forget about incurable diseases, poor health and other problems that they have inevitably faced. Such kind of entertainment gives them the opportunity to forget about an imminent death at least for a while.
  • Return to youth - It seems to them that attending casinos or races returns them to their youth. They again take risks, commit reckless acts, and feel the adrenaline rush. This is a very tempting feeling similar to that observed after drugs.
  • New emotions - Some people discover the world of gambling only after their retirement. They try to make up for lost time and get from life as many different emotions as possible. Do you remember numerous films about the old people who entertain with all their might?
  • Improvement of self-esteem - In the society, seniors are often treated as helpless people who need help and sympathy. Not all pensioners agree with this attitude towards themselves. They try to prove their independence in different ways. Visiting a casino, they want to show the world that it is too early to dismiss them, because they are ready to live and have fun.
  • Financial problems - Many senior citizens are no longer able to assess the real probability of winning lotteries, bingo, blackjack, and other games of chance. Gambling seems to be a very real way to get rich to them. They hope to improve their position or earn money, which they can bequeath their children and grandchildren.
  • Consequences of treatment - Recent studies have demonstrated that gambling can be a side effect of some drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and other age-related diseases.
  • A lot of free time - Seniors often have not a lot of things to do. Having entered a gambling house, they can spend days there, if health allows. The absence of strict time limits contributes to the development of gambling addiction.

It must be admitted that many of the abovementioned explanations of the gambling popularity seem quite reasonable. Why should seniors avoid having fun if this helps them to forget about the problems and enjoy their lives?

The problem is that old people are more susceptible to gambling addiction, so relatives and friends should look after them and provide assistance if necessary.

Why Problem Gambling Is Dangerous for Old People?

Diminished cognitive abilities do not allow old people to reveal the initial signs of gambling addiction and notice its presence even at a severe stage of the disease.

They often become too gullible and cannot notice the tricks used by gambling operators to attract customers. They treat the professionally friendly attitude of casino employees as the sincere respect, which they lack in real life.

Non-working pensioners are not able to solve financial problems that arise as a result of problem gambling. Having lost their savings, they are forced to get into debt and are often embarrassed to tell their children that they have difficulties.

Many senior customers take failures too personally. Even moderate losses cause an increase in blood pressure, which can lead to severe consequences.

What Games of Chance Do Seniors Prefer?

According to Harrah's, seniors often play slot machines in the United States and Western European countries. Three out of four respondents admitted that they were primarily attracted by slot machines. In addition, video poker slots, bingo and lottery halls are very popular among pensioners.

It is worth noting that preferences differ significantly in various countries and regions. Unfortunately, there are no complete and reliable statistical data on the overall situation in the world.

Then, we offer several true stories of real seniors who have suffered from gambling addiction.

Harmful Inheritance

The retired Albert Pearce from London is somewhat unlucky, although we are not going to waive responsibility from him for the unreasonable attitude towards money and gambling.

He earned his living by washing windows for many years, and then unexpectedly inherited three hundred thousand British pounds. It is beyond any doubt it is an impressive amount for the simple worker. His funds were left to Albert by his friend Julie Spalding who had died at the age of ninety-eight.

Money swept Pearce off his feet. He immediately started travelling and regularly attended casinos. Such way of life inevitably leads to financial problem. It is the same as just to ladle money out. Well, easy come, easy go. However it was just the beginning of Albert's troubles.

In 2014, Cecil Bray, an eighty-two-year-old nephew of Julie Spalding, laid claim to the aunt's inheritance. It turned out that he had taken care of the old woman for many years and even left his job. Prior to her death, they had a quarrel. She drove him out of the house, starting to keep company with Albert. Taking into account Bray's arguments, the court found that Pearce should return him three hundred thousand.

But it turned out that Albert had already spent his entire fortune up to the last penny. He kept visiting casinos even during the trial. In August 2017, Pearce was declared bankrupt and was sued.

Currently, an investigation is being conducted, which should find out whether he has concealed money or not. If this fact is proved, he will be sentenced to jail. Although, if we take into account the age of the suspect and the deliberation of the British court, he will hardly survive till the committal to prison.

A Secret Hobby of an Old Lady

The story of Elfride Lippa from Victoria, Canada, confirms that it is necessary to visit your old parents as often as possible and help them to solve everyday problems. The son and daughter of a ninety-year-old woman were not attentive enough to their mother. Now they have to deal with the property seized by the court decision.

Elfride worked her entire life in the service sector: firstly as a waitress, then as a manager. After the death of her husband in 1997, she sold the house and moved to the condominium, putting by one hundred thousand Canadian dollars for a rainy day.

Probably, it was too trivial for her to enjoy advantages of her age, so that she decided to attend the View Royal Casino.

She became so addicted to gambling that she visited the gambling house almost every day. Elfride played even on Christmas Eve, on Christmas and other holidays, which people usually spend with their family. It is not clear where her children were. Later they were surprised by the fact where her mother had spent holidays.

As a result, Elfride lost money from her bank account, mortgaged twice her real estate, and kept gambling at casinos. Now she owes hundred thousand to a bank and forty thousand to a private lender.

Her daughter Sue Yakubovich claims that she and her brother had no idea about the mother's addiction:

As a result of gambling addiction, my mother lost her savings, her home, her health, her independence and harmed most of her relatives. She intentionally concealed problems with gambling and succeeded in doing that.

Her daughter found out about the trouble when Elfride was hospitalized. Sue checked her mailbox and was shocked to find unpaid bills, bank notifications, and coupons from the View Royal Casino. When she asked her why she had attended the casino, the woman simply replied: "I enjoyed it."

The psychiatric examination found her insane. Tom Lippa believes that financial establishment and casinos used Elfride for their own selfish purposes, knowing about her health problems. For example, the bank issued an eighty-five-year-old woman a mortgage for thirty-five years and did not take actions when she repeatedly withdrew large amounts of money at ATMs.

It is unclear whether Elfrida's children will sue the bank and the casino. To be honest, the prospects for such lawsuits are not very promising. Heirs, who got only debts from their mother, only say that they are against plans to open another gambling house in Victoria.

Celebrities Also Suffer from Gambling Addiction

David Milch, a TV producer and a scriptwriter, whose age was over seventy years, also did not escape problem gambling. The winner of the Emmy Award and other prestigious awards, the author of numerous successful television series lost millions of dollars and ran into huge debts.

In his later years, Milch became addicted to horse races. In the period from 2010 to 2011, he spent about twenty five million dollars on race betting. He still owes lenders over fifteen million dollars. The general public knows about his problems thanks to the statements of his ex-wife made during the divorce process.


Careless attitude towards gambling punishes both young and old. If you gamble, you should be careful and prudent regardless of your age.

Having noticed that your old relatives start visiting casinos, buying lottery tickets, making bets or just playing cards with friends, you should pay attention to this fact. Perhaps they will need your help.

We invite you to discuss the topic of age-related gambling addiction in the comments. Share your own experience, talk about real cases, give advices, and ask questions.

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