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Enjoying the Golden Years

Balancing Your Life and Gambling


The kids have grown up, the mortgage is nearly paid off, and you are more then ready for some well-earned R&R. Thousands of people look forward to retirement as the time where they can once again focus on just enjoying life. They may even have some wiggle room in their budgets thanks to a pension, social security, and wise investments – but most importantly they now have the time to fill their days with purpose and fun.

Health Choices and Concerns About Problem Gambling

Many choose to spend this extra time on travel and leisure, including gambling and going to the casino. In fact, among adults age 65 and up, gambling is the most frequently identified social activity (McNeilly & Burke, 2001). While most people can enjoy gambling as entertainment, about 2%-4% of the adult population can develop problems with gambling.  Older adults who play at gambling facilities are 6 times more likely to be problem gamblers than other older adults randomly chosen from the same community, and 3.7 times as likely to be probable pathological gamblers (McNeilly & Burke, 2000).

Older adults can be at risk for problem gambling because:

a) people coping with big changes or losses in life are more prone to developing gambling problems, and older adults are facing a big transition in their lives,

b) gambling losses can hit harder when living on a fixed income and not having years ahead in the work force to earn that income back,

c) gambling can be seen as a way to combat loneliness, escape from stress and pain, and

d) many older adults hide their gambling because of the associated stigma.

Know the Signs

Problem gambling can be defined as any gambling behavior that compromises or damages someone’s personal, family, or vocational pursuits. Problem gambling is difficult to detect as there is no physical test to determine whether someone has a gambling disorder. Below are some of the more common signs and symptoms of problem gambling:

  • Gambling to calm nerves, forget worries, or reduce depression;
  • Losing interest in other things, such as food, healthy hobbies, and time with friends and family;
  • Talking about, thinking about, or planning to gamble and not doing other activities;
  • Lying about gambling habits;
  • Gambling alone or gambling more often;
  • Getting into arguments about gambling;
  • Going without basic needs to gamble;
  • • Having financial problems caused by gambling
  • Health problems related to gambling, such as headaches, irritable bowel, anxiety and depression;
  • Needing to gamble more and more money to get the desired effect;

Keep Your Retirement Fun, Gamble Responsibly

Retirement is a time to relax and enjoy life, not having to worry about how gambling is going to impact you. Keep your gambling fun and responsible by following these tips below:

  • Don’t think of gambling as a way to make money
  • Only gamble with money you can afford to lose
  • Never chase your losses – learn to walk away
  • Set a money limit
  • Set a time limit and stick to it
  • Never gamble when you are depressed or upset
  • Balance gambling with other fun activities – don’t let it take centerstage in your life
  • Remember, gambling and alcohol together can be a risky combination

Get Help

Problem gambling isn’t always easy to see. If you’re worried about a parent or another loved one don’t hesitate to seek help for them or yourself.   Confidential, around-the-clock support for information and referral to treatment is available.  Call/text our Washington State 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-547-6133, or chat with a problem gambling specialist online on our website by clicking here.

For more resources related to problem gambling awareness and education, visit the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling website at https://www.evergreencpg.org/awareness. You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Get Involved!

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month – Nationally, and in Washington State by proclamation of Governor Inslee.  Throughout the month, there are numerous events and awareness activities aimed at increasing public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment, and recovery services.  You can find information on all these events and activities at the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling website.