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Pat Quinn, Governor

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  Seniors & Gambling  

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Senior problem gambling is rising. According to a study conducted for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission in 1999, there are an estimated 3 million adults in the U.S. who are considered problem gamblers. Another 2 million are pathological gamblers. Studies show that 1 in 20 adults experience problems with gambling, and 1 in 100 have problems that are very serious.

Elder Abuse Prevention
Defining problem or compulsive gambling
For most seniors, gambling is entertainment, pure and simple.It'ss a chance to escape with friends, get away from day to day stresses and have fun. Winning money is a bonus, not the primary objective. Most seniors who gamble continue to take care of their health and financial obligations.

For a growing number of seniors, gambling is a losing enterprise. More time and attention are needed as the gambler attempts to win back what he/she has lost. If the losses continue, the gambler may sell possessions or property to cover expenses, or seek risky or high interest loans. Ultimately, the problem gambler avoids friends and family and lies about his/her activities. Anxiety, depression and financial stress can lead to declining health.

The National Council on Problem Gambling defines problem gambling as gambling behavior that causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term "problem gambling" includes, but is not limited to, "pathological" or "compulsive" gambling. It is a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, chasing losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious negative consequences.


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For more information, contact the Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine.

Section Links

Action vs. Escape gambling
Why seniors gamble
Types of gambling
Warning signs of problem gambling
Are you a problem gambler?
Are you living with a compulsive gambler?
Rules for responsible gambling
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