Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Connecticut

It’s Not Smart to Push Your Luck

The American culture puts a great deal of emphasis on being a winner. Vince Lombardi, the well known football coach was famous for saying, “Winning is everything” and we now have quiz shows and reality television shows that are based on an anything goes, winner take all philosophy. It may come as no surprise, therefore, that for a small number of individuals among the many who gamble for fun and entertainment, the need to win turns into an addiction. For this group, gambling takes over their lives, sometimes destroying their marriages and ruining them, financially.

While gambling addiction knows no race or age barriers, the elderly can be at the greatest risk for several reasons. Seniors have already experienced a series of “losses” such as the loss of a structured workday, loss of a sense of importance, loss of income and loss of a spouse. Sometimes they are also depressed and have chronic pain. For some, the intense focus when gambling, the adrenaline “high” which can occur, helps them to momentarily forget their problems. Winning can make them feel good about themselves, again. According to the State of Connecticut’s Problem Gambling Services division, problem gambling among the elderly has increased by over 45% in recent years.

There are several fallacies common to most gamblers:

In Connecticut, the three most popular forms of gambling are the slot machines, blackjack and scratch tickets. Not so long ago, gambling was considered slightly shady and people were a little ashamed and secretive about their gambling. Now,we have several near-by casinos promoted as “family entertainment centers”, scratch tickets are readily available at your nearest supermarket and internet gambling is becoming more and more popular. In fact, the word gambling, itself, has undergone a cleansing ritual and gambling is now known as “gaming”. Many senior centers schedule regular trips to the casinos and Las Vegas has become both a honeymoon and family vacation destination.

All of this may constitute merely a pleasant pastime and harmless entertainment for many people but for a growing number, especially our seniors, it can develop into a major problem.

Some of the warning signs are:

Anyone who has a problem can find help by calling the CT, Problem Gambling Help Line, a confidential, 24 hour resource and referral service.

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