The Casino Trap: Gambling Addiction in Older People

From an alarming AARP Bulletin report by John Rosengren about gambling addiction in older people and the complicity of casinos:

casino“Older adults are an especially desirable demographic for the gaming industry because they fill the floors during off-peak hours, and casinos market to them aggressively, offering discounts on breakfast and lunch, free drinks and guarantees to ‘instantly win up to $1,000 Free Slot Play!’ They stage free daytime entertainment such as polka dancing, magic shows and live ‘Golden Oldies’ shows. The ‘Third of the Month Club’ provides complimentary shuttles from senior centers and retirement housing complexes on the day they receive their Social Security checks. Some casinos stock their bathrooms with adult diapers and disposal receptacles for diabetics’ needles. They provide wheelchairs, walkers and more handicapped parking spots than a hospital. One Nevada casino operated an on-site pharmacy—since closed—where accumulated play credits could cover the standard $25 copay on medications.”

Casinos may even assign “hosts” to make sure their older gamblers are taken care of by “befriending” them, dining with them and asking if they’ve taken their medications. It’s not difficult to get vulnerable people hooked on the gambling experience.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, one place you can get help is The National Council on Problem Gambling, which operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700). The network is a single national access point to local resources for those seeking help for a gambling problem. The network consists of 28 call centers which provide resources and referrals for all 50 states, Canada and the US Virgin Islands. Help is available 24/7 and is 100% confidential. You can also connect with them via text at 1-800-522-4700 and via chat at


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