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Problem Gambling in the Golden Years: Helping New Jersey’s Seniors

Seniors are among the fastest-growing demographics in America at risk for developing a gambling disorder (sometimes referred to as “gambling addiction”). For elderly residents of Freehold, Marlboro Township, Monmouth County, and other New Jersey towns, Atlantic City is a popular destination. Casinos encourage seniors to visit by offering them accommodations like buses, free or discounted hotel rooms, and lunch buffets. It’s hard for anyone not to be tempted by the bright lighting, games, and lively atmosphere, especially later in life.

A Growing Problem

A recent study determined that approximately 23% of New Jersey residents over 55 exhibit at least one symptom of problem gambling, and that number is growing. A different study found that 70% of the elderly who gambled in the past year “bet more than they could comfortably afford.” This means that not only is senior gambling a growing trend, but it is harming retirement funds, leaving New Jersey’s elderly population in a potentially dire financial situation.

New Jersey’s senior citizens are particularly at risk for upsetting their financial stability due to excessive gambling. This comes from the fact that in most cases, they are retired with no ongoing form of income to offset losses that they accrue at the casino.

Make a Difference by Reaching Out

Given the often isolated living arrangements of elderly citizens in New Jersey, seniors typically find it easier to hide their gambling habits from their loved ones. Isolation itself often factors into disordered gambling in seniors: if a spouse has passed on or children have moved away, seniors often seek refuge in places where they can socialize and feel acknowledged as valuable, even if they are gambling with their life savings. Because the majority of the elderly live on a limited income, disordered gambling has great potential to erode or destroy their ability to live comfortably.

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey offers help for gambling in Marlboro Township, NJ (as well as anywhere else in the state). It can be very difficult to confront an aging parent or relative about disordered gambling – the stigma of so-called “addiction” may prevent them from opening up about their struggle. But by providing support through programs like Gamblers Anonymous meetings in NJ, our 800-GAMBLER hotline provides helpful resources to seniors and their loved ones, and assists them in finding the support they need to fight a dangerous and costly behavioral disorder.

Help is Available

By calling or texting 800-GAMBLER, New Jersey residents can access professional help from anywhere in the state. Whether the problem arises from a slot machine in Atlantic City or a poker table in Marlboro Township, the necessary support is just a phone call away.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that a gambling disorder can work its way into any life and negatively affect anyone involved. However, it is never too late for a problem gambler to recover, no matter what age they are. Thanks to the 24/7, confidential 800-GAMBLER hotline, support, treatment, and hope are just a call or text away, from Freehold Township to Monmouth County and across the Garden State.