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         PBWHA utilizes the Golden Away the Golden Years Curriculum (GAGY) to conduct problem gambling workshops targeting males and females, 65 years of age and over. GAGY explores the possibility of gambling turning from entertainment to addiction, especially during the retirement years. The one-hour workshops are  conducted in partnership with churches, senior centers and housing complexes throughout the Philadelphia area that agree to host the program. 


         According to a 2013 Survey of Casino Entertainment was conducted by the American Gaming Association, 36 percent of older adults, ages 65 and older, reported to have gone to a casino in 2012.  Amy Ziettlow, Author of Institute for American Values highlights the impact gambling can have on the daily lives of this age group…“the average senior living on a fixed income of roughly $35,000 a year who engages in just one round of casino game playing will eventually empty out their bank account and leave themselves hungry. They are enticed by deals (Full breakfast for $3) and casinos are wheelchair and motor scooter accessible which truly attracts them.”


         The January 2007, National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) Fact Sheet states that it would be difficult for seniors not to gamble at casinos because most times elderly seniors are bored & lonely and gambling brings them socialization, excitement, independence, relaxation, monetary compensation and a chance away at little to no cost.


         A survey on problem gambling of older adults; developed and conducted by Researcher Dr. David Olsin, University of Pennsylvania in partnership with the Veterans Administration and the University of Pennsylvania; further underscores the negative impact gambling has the on the lives of this population group.  The following was published in 2005 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: 843 senior citizens were interviewed and 70 percent admitted gambling in the previous year. Nearly, 10 percent gambling away more than they could afford to lose and 11% are at-risk gamblers who have given away more than $100 in a single bet.” "Disordered gambling," according to an article abstract in American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, "is a clinically significant problem among older adults."2 Compared with those who never or rarely gamble, compulsive bettors reported a higher incidence of anxiety, poor health, depression, paranoia and related addictions.


         Signs of seniors having a gambling problem include loss of interest and participation in normal activities with friends and families, blocks of time unaccounted for, missing possessions or assets, and changes in attitude and personality. Gambling problems may also be evidenced by neglect of personal needs (food, utilities and medical), secrecy and avoidance when discussing time and money, and depression.


         With the issue of senior problem gambling presented above, it is important to raise awareness on gambling and possible risk factors associated with the addiction. Potential strategies such as warning signs, reducing bet sizes, rolling less spins can be used as a form of harm-minimization. Alternatively, it is best to help seniors find other enjoyable activities such as gardening, volunteering and exercising that will not drain their pockets.




Risk or Reward? Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 52:7, 686-694, DOI:10.1080/01634370802716224

Ariyabuddhiphongs, V. (2012). Older Adults and Gambling: A Review. International Journal Of Mental Health & Addiction, 10(2), 297-308. doi:10.1007/s11469-011-9325-6

Levens, S., Dyer, A., Zubritsky, C., Knott, K., & Oslin, D. W. (2005). Gambling among older, primary-care patients: An important public health concern. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 13(1), 69-76. Retrieved from

"Many elderly gamblers betting the farm." NBCUniversal News Group, 19 Jan. 2005. Web.

Older Adults Fact Sheet. (2007, January). Retrieved from

Wiederman, A. J. (2014, March 18). Are Too Many Seniors Gambling Their Lives Away? Retrieved from

PBWHA partners with schools and community-based organizations to conduct workshops. 
Please contact us if you have any questions or wish to host workshops at your site.



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