How to know when a ‘gray gambler’ is a problem gambler

slot-machine-sliderOnce upon a time, bingo was the biggest game in town at the local senior center. But you’re far more likely to find today’s seniors manning a slot machine at the local casino – and some have become gambling addicts.

Problem gambling among older people is on the rise. Seniors have time and money on their hands, and the proliferation of casinos in most regions of the country has made gambling more convenient.

“What we are seeing is that seniors are the backbone of the modern casino industry,” says Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), a non-profit organization that advocates for programs and services to help problem gamblers and their families. “The marketing and promotion to seniors is light-years from what it was.”

Experts say gray gambling addiction will become more prevalent only rise as the baby boom generation ages.

Not all senior gambling is addiction, and some of the social aspects of game playing at a recreational level can be very good for physical and cognitive health. The problems crop up when recreational gambling turns into an addiction. It’s still more prevalent among young people than old, experts say, but seniors are most vulnerable.

Learn more in my column today at Reuters Money.

Photo by Lisa Brewster via Flicker