Program Warns Seniors of Problem Gambling Dangers

Seniors at Hazleton Active Adult Center are learning about the potential danger of gambling addiction thanks to a program by Pathway to Recovery.

The Hazleton-area non-profit, which opened in 1977, offers addiction education, prevention, and counseling services. Its senior program is designed to educate older residents about problem gambling, a diagnosable disorder. Participating seniors watched a video featuring older problem gamblers telling the stories of their gambling addictions. The group also listened to prevention specialists.

Seniors may be more likely to struggle with gambling addiction.

Education programs like this one can alert seniors–and their families—to the danger of unhealthy gambling behaviors. While gambling problems can occur in a person of any age, gender, or ethnicity, some groups, including seniors, are more vulnerable than others. Why might seniors be at higher risk?

  • Major life transitions: From retirement after a decades-long career to the deaths of loved ones, older Americans transition through several significant life changes—sometimes in a relatively short period of time. This often triggers stress and anxiety, driving some seniors to seek out gambling as a way to “relax” or alleviate negative emotions.
  • Loneliness: Social circles may become smaller as seniors become less able to get around easily and as they experience the loss of friends and family. Casinos go out of their way to make lonely seniors feel accepted—all in an effort to earn their gambling dollars. It’s not unusual for a senior gambler to receive comps or even birthday cards from casino outreach staff.
  • Money concerns: Fixed income worries dog many older Americans, leading some to try gambling as a way to fix their financial situations. They may believe that skill or a “lucky streak” guarantees them a big payout, when the truth is that the house always wins. Always.

If you’re losing sleep over your gambling behavior or if you’re worried about a senior you love, take the gambling risk assessment quiz on our home page. To find Lancaster/Lebanon-area education, intervention, or counseling resources, contact the Compass Mark team at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.


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