“Gambling for Seniors by AARP Calls Slots Financially Devastating and Their ‘Electronic crack”…

“Gambling for Seniors by AARP Calls Slots Financially Devastating and Their ‘Electronic crack”…

Since moving here to Arizona from So. Oregon a few years ago, I was shocked to see so many Indian Casinos all over this State. Now I know Oregon and California have casinos every as well, but here? IT IS LIKE Drug Addiction! Being the Indian Casinos are selling “Crack.”

So I happen to come across an article in AARP Money Section, written by John Rosengren is a freelance journalist. It is an eye-opening article on how problem gambling and slots are now affecting our senior population and devastating their “Golden Years” financially.

It is a long write-up but worth the read! so you can read the full article here on AARP Mag.com.

THE CASINO TRAP: “As the gambling industry booms, aggressive marketing targets older patrons.”


“CASINOS use marketing ploys to target older patrons — and empty their wallets.”

Beauford Burton had enjoyed the occasional poker game in his youth, but in his 60s the slots hooked him. He and his wife, Sharon, started making the 2 1/2-hour drive every Friday from their home in Kings Mountain, N.C., to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, where they won occasionally but lost more frequently. In one year, he lost about $50,000, nearly the equivalent of his annual salary as a manager in a textile company.

They often stayed longer than they’d intended—many times the casino would offer them a free hotel room Saturday night. Burton can’t remember ever paying for a room. He had access to an exclusive bar with free drinks and food, preferred seating in the restaurants and suite upgrades in the hotel. Harrah’s once flew the couple to its casino in Laughlin, Nev., and covered all their expenses—except, of course, what they gambled.

In the end, Burton knew that all of the freebies weren’t really free and that he had paid for them tenfold with his losses. “I have always known you don’t get something for nothing, but I fell for it,” he says. “It’s the good old devil at work.”

Over four years, the slots drained more than $100,000 from Burton’s 401(k). But he kept playing. He cashed in a life insurance policy, took out cash advances on his credit card and gambled away Social Security checks meant to pay utility bills. Finally, in 2008, the gambling habit took his home.

By then, he was playing in a panic, betting up to $15 to $20 a spin, chasing his losses and pursuing the one illusory jackpot that he hoped would save him. “As you start to lose, you think, This is a luck thing, my luck is going to change,” says Burton, now 73. “But the more you go, the more you lose. It ends up in desperation. I can see how people get so deep that it causes them to take their own lives because it gets really, really bad.”


Of the 101 million visitors to America’s casinos in 2014 (the last year for which information was available), nearly half were age 50 or older, according to data from the gambling industry. In 2014, American casinos reported over $66 billion in gambling revenue, and much of that profit came from these older gamblers.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies revealed that many older adults viewed the casino as a place where they can socialize and escape from loneliness or grief.

It’s never been easier for them to get to one. Long gone are the days when the twin casino meccas of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., represented the sole options for American gamblers. Regional casinos have proliferated dramatically since 1988 when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act legalized casino development on Indian lands. That sparked a loosening of state prohibitions on gambling and a nationwide casino building boom. Today, 1,400 casinos are spread across 40 states. Regional casinos are especially attractive to those who prefer to drive themselves and do not want to have to spend the night. States with large populations of adults over 65, including Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and West Virginia, have all expanded casino gambling in recent years.




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.

The gambling boom—and the aggressive tactics the industry uses to lure older patrons—has alarmed addiction experts. Even casino patrons with no history of problem gambling can develop addictive behavior as they age. According to a 2005 study by David Oslin, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, 1 in 11 adults over age 65 bet more than they could afford to lose in the previous year. The study suggests that more than 4 million older Americans could have a gambling problem. “That’s a higher rate than we have for most diseases,” he says.


Slots are also the most addictive form of casino gambling, with the machines designed to maximize your “time on device” until you’re out of money. A 2001 study by psychiatrist Hans Breiter, then of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, confirmed that the machine’s nickname—”electronic crack”—is an apt one. Using MRI scanners, he found that in subjects playing slots, the brain’s neural circuits fired in a way that was similar to those using cocaine.

Several factors make gamblers particularly susceptible to addiction behavior as they age. Loneliness, social isolation and the loss of a spouse can encourage older people to seek relief in casinos. “For someone older who has been sick in the hospital or who is bored or lonely, that can have a big impact on them,” says clinical gyro psychologist Dennis McNeilly of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

More serious age-related cognitive decline plays a role, too. A 2012 study found that changes in the anatomy and chemistry of brains in dementia patients 65 and up, particularly in the frontal region—which controls executive functioning—”may render older adults particularly vulnerable to the stimulation provided by the slot machine.” Dementia afflicts about 14 percent of the U.S. population over 70 years old, and an estimated half of those (nearly 2 million people) are undiagnosed.

“With both the reward system and impulse controls impaired, that creates the perfect storm for someone to develop problems with gambling,” says Michael Hornberger, a neuroscientist at the University of East Anglia in England. Cognitive issues can cause sufferers to lose their sense of money’s value, and those with dementia often repeat a singular behavior such as pushing the button on a slot machine over and over. “They just keep playing as long as the casino lets them,” Hornberger says.



Beauford Burton’s experience at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is typical of such relationships.

In addition to sending birthday cards and weekly mailings with ticket deals to shows and vouchers for free play, the casino assigned a VIP host who called Burton at home to invite him back for various specials. Casino hosts often lavish personal attention on high-rolling older charges, asking about their health, reminding them to take their medicine and eating meals with them.

“The whole premise of a host is to extract as much money from that player as possible,” says ex-host John-Talmage Mathis, who worked as VIP marketing director at the Boomtown Casino in Bossier City, La. “For older people, the host becomes their friend, giving them all the attention they may not be getting from their children or friends.”

Casinos award hosts bonuses based on how much the gambler loses. “The losses of your player,” Mathis says, “are your success.”

As the industry seeks to expand, more women are being enticed into casinos, and more are experiencing problems, according to a study published in the journal Psychiatry.

Many slot machines are now designed specifically for women players, who, like longtime slots addict Melynda Litchfield, sometimes feel bonded with their machines. Litchfield, 56, worked 27 years at a Chicago-area hospital, climbing from staff nurse to administrator with a salary of $100,000.

Yet she couldn’t afford a prom dress for her daughter because she lost so much playing slots at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Ill., 10 minutes from their home. For Litchfield, the atmosphere was as addicting as the machines themselves. The staff treated her warmly and called her by name. “They gave me so much personal attention and TLC that you get, the false impression these people—who are milking away all of your money—actually care about you,” she says.

The casino also served as a dream world escape, to a place where she did not have to tend to the needs of anyone else.

“I didn’t want to talk to anyone,” says Litchfield, who quit gambling in 2012 and is now a national victim advocate for Stop Predatory Gambling. (A fantastic resource)…

“I just wanted to get lost in my machine.”


HERE is where I will stop, and again, please visit this link AARP Mag.com for “the rest of the story.” I wanted to stop here because I know exactly what this woman was talking about. It was one of the reasons I got hooked on slots. I just wanted to escape, numb or zone out with a few hours of gambling. As many who know me and have read my memoir, I was escaping from old pain from my childhood when it resurfaced again and I didn’t know how to cope with it all!

DON’T BE FOOLED. Casinos are targeting everyone, not just our Seniors….






Senior Population Is At Great Risk Due To Casino Expansions…

Is It Time to Slow Down The Expansion Of Casino’s And State Lotteries? YES!!

Senior Citizens Feeling the Grip of Gambling Addiction
With the availability of casinos in more than half of the U.S. states, senior citizens are becoming more and more addicted to gambling.

According to the Las Vegas Problem Gambling Center, around 40% of the people they see are over the age of 50 and more disturbing is that often chronic health conditions within this group are related to gambling addiction.

Some years ago, San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor who is in her 60’s and who was addicted to video poker, landed herself in a $13 million debt to various casinos and even at one point, she used more than $3 million from a charity foundation that her late husband had set up.

The problem seems to be growing daily as the number of casinos in the U.S. has grown from being limited to Atlantic City and Nevada while now, these casinos are available in more than 30 states with more on the way.

Without consistent monthly income, these seniors are cashing in their social security checks in the hope of catching the big one, but this just isn’t the case and the gambling addiction problem is simply growing daily.

*Some News About Gambling Casino & State Lottery Expansions*
It is clearly evident that there is a common desire in Colorado to expand gambling in order to boost the economy. A Rhode Island company, Twin River Worldwide Holdings, is leading a group of Canadians to try and expand gambling to the Pueblo, Arapahoe and Mesa counties.

Colorado Working On Expanding Gambling

It seems that various Colorado communities are considering expanding gambling in order to boost the economy in the region.

Meanwhile, others are trying to expand gambling on the Western slope while limited stakes gambling could be up for a vote soon. Since the state has already legalized the use of marijuana, Action 22, which is a regional group lobbying for gambling in the south of Colorado, feels that gambling should be expanded in the region.

Opposing these groups is the Colorado Gaming Association who already represents casinos in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. Their objections are against the fact that the new casinos will be large Vegas–style casinos and that the initiative will give the Arapahoe Park owner a 5-year monopoly on Front Range gaming in the state.

As a result of this conflict of interest, existing hotels in the area such as the Monarch Casino Black Hawk has placed their intended expansions on hold until the final outcome of this initiative.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office has received two measures to allow table games, slots and video lottery terminals at the Aurora racetrack as well as two other future racetracks in Mesa and Pueblo counties.

The upside of this initiative is that the community would receive 2% of the casino profits as well as $10m in upfront fees while the State will receive $25M. Meanwhile, Trinidad is also considering gaming in the area and Tom Acre, the City Manager, has said that he will bring up this topic at the City Council retreat.
*Now I don’t know about you, but I’m getting very TIRED of States using gambling profits to boost the “State Budget Short Falls” as we already have to pay a TAX on many other things like Gas, Smokes, and Alcohol. And THEY use the excuse that “State Lottery Profits” are going to help our schools, and other services, but why then is our schools still CLOSING? Why are the school’s Music, Band, and Sports programs STILL getting CUT? I think it’s time for STATES to find other ways besides Gambling Profits to fix their Budget Woes!*

And Lastly, more about our Senior’s and Problem Gambling,…
“Seniors Impetus & Problem Gambling”

Who’d know, that conscious and adult people could be hooked by gambling addiction. Serious games for seniors can be converted into the most serious addiction problem, because it’s really hard to convince mature people that they are not right and their life style, which leads to the serious problems, is incorrect.
Loneliness, boredom are just individual problems, which can happen in life of every adult person, really provoke different desperate decisions, provoking addiction symptoms. It is considered that gamblers of female gender tend to play such games, as slots more often, and thus they express their escapism, while men, who vice versa want to feel as valid members of society, are playing such games, as roulette or craps.

At first, adults perceive gambling as a kind of luxurious entertainment that they seldom experience because of a full-time job and very brief weekends. Gambling is not an innocent amusement, during which people just relax and get pleasure. The strong and sharp feelings of heat and greed, which it evokes, can cause a wish to continue playing all the time.
Statistics announces that one among 10 seniors usually have all the possibilities to become one of the addicted gamblers. The members of this age group just don’t come to the casino in order to have a chat or great recreation, the greatest idea of luck is being generated in the brain of every senior person during gambling it’s like a check of destiny for them. The doctor of Psychology of Medical Centre in Nebraska indicates that all the sorts of entertainment for seniors, especially if they like it very much; tend to grow into some kind of addiction. Their life is too monotonous to resist those incredible feelings of freedom and luck.
During the period from 1974 till 1994, the seniors’ gamblers percentage grew for 30% (from 20% to 50%). The main factor is that adults are really obstinate and just refuse to hear and to acknowledge the fact of their guiltiness. If for the teenagers and just young people, it’s quite possible to give childish explanations for serious outcomes of problem gambling, seniors just don’t understand it.
And the most horrible thing in the entire situation with adults’ addiction is that their children suffer. And it’s not the case, where one of the spouses just can abandon an addict and finish suffering. Here, children are powerless, and there are no people that could instruct the gamblers in more of the cases. Children face lots of risk to become the same and follow the mother’s\father’s example. Their child can have the highest psychological complications and an adjustment disorder, observing adult’s addiction. Even such a serious syndrome as Oppositional Defiant Disorder can be provoked in the gambler’s children (especially in boys).
*Yes, this is true about our loved ones are effected to when we become addicted to gambling. This will be my next “Topic” I’ll explore and blog in my next post. To share insights from the our loved ones, family, and our friends who may have been hurt while we where in the worst of our addiction! I hope this information has been helpful to you. Not just those in recovery, or those who are reaching out to stop the “insanity” of gambling addiction, but for those who don’t know that these things do happen. To help shatter the stigma around an addiction that is so Socially Accepted by our society. YOU CAN BECOME ADDICTED*…
National Hotline for Gambling Help ~ 1-800-522-4700
National Suicide Hotline ~ 1-800-273-8255
Stop Predatory Gambling ~ http://stoppredatorygambling.org


Understanding Joy:
The Devastation of a Gambling Addiction
Premiering Wednesday, March 19 at 8pm
An MPT co-production with MedSchool Maryland Productions

With an estimated 150,000 problem gamblers in the state and a growing number of casino-based gambling opportunities available in Maryland and surrounding states, problem gambling has become epidemic. To explore the issue, MPT presents Understanding Joy: The Devastation of a Gambling Addiction, a revealing documentary on the destructive nature of gambling addiction. The one-hour special also will feature a panel of experts and a call-in telephone bank to respond to viewers’ questions or requests for help.
Produced by Susan Hadary and John Anglim of MedSchool Maryland Productions and with funding by the Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, a program of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Understanding Joy enters the mind of Joy, a 57-year-old woman. Joy’s gambling addiction has overcome her sense of morality and driven her to embezzle $700,000 from two employers. As she awaits sentencing for her crime, Joy struggles to explain her disease to her children, to the world, and to herself.
Understanding Joy executive producer for MPT Frank Batavick explains that the documentary will be presented in three segments. During breaks between segments, MPT anchor Yolanda Vazquez will interview nationally recognized local experts on gambling addiction and responsible gambling. These experts and specially trained counselors will be available to receive calls from the public during and after the broadcast at the MPT toll-free number 1-800-222-1292.
To address the increase in problem gambling, the Maryland Center of Excellence of Program Gambling supports an ongoing public awareness campaign to help problem gamblers and their families become familiar with the symptoms of the addiction and how to get help. The center maintains a 24-hour help line (1-800-522-4700) and a public awareness website (www.mdproblemgambling.com) and supports numerous public outreach initiatives through MedSchool Maryland Productions….
>     MD Problem Gambling     ‏@MDCEPG         

*IF YOU don’t live in MD, it will stream live on Twitter!*