Senior Casino Field Trips Fuel Addiction
Senior centers and retirement communities are great places for elderly Americans to live and to socialize. Many provide wonderful opportunities for seniors to engage in activities that include group outings, exercising and engaging the mind. These are the things that keep us healthy and young, but there is a downside to one of the most popular senior center field trips. Most senior groups take trips to casinos for recreational gambling. Playing the slots or the black jack table can be a fun way to pass the time, but they can also lead to a harmful addiction. Senior gambling is on the rise and the mental health and finances of the victims are suffering.
Seniors at Risk for Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction is a real disorder that mimics drug addiction. Someone addicted to gambling is consumed by a desire to play and to place bets. Gambling addicts have a difficult time controlling themselves in a casino. They may even experience withdrawal between gambling sessions. The repercussions of a gambling addiction include stress and anxiety disorders, insomnia, an increased risk of heart disease, financial problems, legal problems and strained or broken relationships.
Seniors are at a greater risk for developing a problem with gambling than other groups of people. Retirement is something we all look forward to, but when faced with no longer working, not everyone copes well. The transition from being a contributing member of society to retiree can be difficult and it leaves people with a lot of time to fill. Seniors may also face social isolation when no longer working, or may be coping with the grief of losing a spouse. Trips to the casino may seem like a good way to alleviate negative emotions.
Furthermore, senior centers and retirement communities take numerous day trips to casinos for recreation. One study found that 70 percent of seniors report having gambled within the last year, while 10 percent report betting more than they can afford to lose. With fixed incomes, seniors are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of gambling too much.
Casinos Target Seniors
For casinos, which have proliferated across the country over the last few decades, busloads of seniors taking gambling trips mean big profits. The senior centers organizing the trips may have only good intentions in offering transportation and a social outing for the elderly, but casinos target older gamblers for less than honorable reasons.
If a local senior center doesn’t have a bus trip scheduled, many casinos will provide the ride and pick up groups of seniors from their retirement homes. Meals are often discounted for seniors at casinos, and may include an endless buffet or coupons for free dinners. Many casinos include special days for seniors, as well as prizes and rewards for frequent gamblers. All of these incentives act to draw in more senior gamblers to spend their money.
Helping Senior Gamblers
It is important for the family members and friends of seniors who like to gamble to be aware of the pitfalls. If you have a parent or friend who likes to take casino trips, keep tabs on her habit. Take a trip with her and see if she is in control of her spending or if she gambles irresponsibly. There are many support groups available that can help people of all ages overcome a gambling problem, but they can’t help if you don’t realize there is a problem. Spend time with your elderly loved ones and take an interest in what they do; it could make all the difference in the world.