According to research, some older Americans be at high risk for gambling problems, such as betting a large amount of money or more than they can afford.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania surveyed the gambling habits of 843 people aged 65 and older-the largest study on this subject. They found that 70% of those studied had been involved in at least one gambling activity in the previous year. In addition, 11% could be classified as at-risk gamblers because they had recently put more than $100 on a single bet and/or had bet more money than they could afford to lose.
"Results from this study raise significant public health concerns that gambling and at risk gambling are prevalent in older men and women," report the study authors. Women were just as likely as men to be gamblers and to show signs of gambling problems.
Of Special Concern
Although many older adults view gambling as harmless entertainment and participate in some form of gambling without any problems, a significant minority experiences disastrous consequences.
Seniors are apt to be living on fixed incomes, so even small gambling losses can have a major impact. Older adults are also more likely to have some form of age-related mental impairment that affects their ability to gamble responsibly, according to the researchers.
"The seniors who are at risk may not be ready for Gamblers Anonymous, but many of them don't have a lot of money, and spending on gambling could mean that they won't have anything left to buy medicines," states the study's senior author, Dr. David Oslin of the University of Pennsylvania.
Every state in the US, except Hawaii and Utah, has some form of legal gambling opportunity, the study notes. Gambling is a $40 billion industry in the United States.
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