Gambling can be fun and even exciting for older adults. It can offer a way to get out and socialize and to support a charity. Forms of gambling include casino games, bingo, scratch and win tickets, lotteries, betting on sports events, playing the stock market and gambling on the Internet. For most older adults, gambling is not a problem, but for some, it can be.
What is a gambling problem?
The sad truth about gambling is that most people who gamble lose more than they win. Older adults are usually retired and have limited ﬁnances; when they lose, it’s hard for them to earn back that money. But problem gambling is not just about losing money. Gambling can affect a person’s whole life. Gambling is a problem when it:
- gets in the way of other activities
- harms a person’s mental or physical health
- hurts a person ﬁnancially
- causes problems for a person’s family or friends.
What are the signs of a gambling problem?
Signs of problem gambling include:
- spending more on gambling than intended
- feeling bad, sad or guilty about gambling
- placing larger, more frequent bets
- not having enough money for food, rent or bills after gambling
- loss of interest and participation in normal activities with friends and family
- placing a high priority on gambling
- being secretive about the amount of time and money spent gambling.
What can I do to gamble safely?
You can avoid the risks associated with gambling when you:
- set ﬁnancial limits and time limits
- play with money you can afford to lose
- leave extra cash, bank and credit cards at home
- don’t borrow money to gamble
- think of gambling as a form of entertainment, not as a way to make money
- participate in other recreational activities
- keep a clear head, only gamble when you’re sober
- gamble with others who gamble safely
- take regular breaks when gambling.
Where can I get help or ﬁnd more information?
Contact ConnexOntario Helpline at 1 866 531-2600, or online at www.connexontario.ca, for information and referrals to problem gambling counselling services, telephone counselling services and mutual aid organizations such as Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon. This free, conﬁdential and anonymous service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Contact Access CAMH for mental illness including addictions information, eligibility requirements and instructions on making a referral to CAMH and to refer yourself for addictions services. For Access CAMH Services, call 416 535-8501, option 2.
Adapted from What older adults, their families and friends need to know about… Gambling © CAMH 2008