Casinos: elderly day care

May 8, 2012 11:06 am

Casino operators like to talk up the fun and entertainment they provide, while downplaying the dirty secret of what is going on inside many casinos across the country. But columnist Phil Reisman puts a human face on elderly problems gamblers who are fueling the growth of casinos across the country.

Reisman’s compelling column details the financial ruin of an 84-year-old widow who became hooked on playing slots and then taken advantage of by others. Helen’s story is just one of many that play out without much attention. But the reality is Helen is part of bread and butter slots players that generate a large chunk of a casino’s profits.

Atlantic City is well known for busing in elderly gamblers to play slots. But as more and more convenience casinos pop up across the county, gambling has become easily accessible to many other graying gamblers. Studies show elderly women especially are vulnerable to problem gambling. (One senior citizen warned against getting hooked on slots, while this piece says casinos have become day care

A University of Pennsylvania study found 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 are at risk of financial problems from gambling. The study was completed in 2005, before the recent surge in new casinos that have opened which will likely exacerbate the problem. Ohio is gearing up for an increase in elderly problem gamblers as casinos open up there.

The same problems will play out in other states like Massachusetts, where casinos are are expected to open soon. New York, Florida and other states should examine this growing problem before moving forward with plans to add more casinos. If not, lawmakers will be responsible for creating many more problem gamblers like Helen.

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