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Gambling and Seniors Part 2 - Online Gambling

Gambling and Seniors Part 2 - Online Gambling...Riskier Than Visiting Casinos?

by Don Drake, Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. 3.15.24


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Attorney RJ Connelly III

"As the baby boomer generation is aging, they are facing serious problems that need attention," stated professional fiduciary and certified elder law Attorney RJ Connelly III. "These include more cases of sexually transmitted diseases, more people abusing drugs, both legal and illegal, and getting addicted to them, and more people in this age group developing gambling problems."


"There are several factors that contribute to the prevalence of gambling problems among older adults, but the primary reason, I believe, is linked to the cultural and social norms of the baby boomer generation," continued Attorney Connelly. "Growing up during a time when sexual liberation, drug use, and gambling were widely accepted, many older adults view gambling as a harmless form of entertainment. However, for those who gamble to cope with feelings of loneliness, physical ailments, or depression, the risks of developing a gambling problem are significantly higher. This underscores the importance of addressing the underlying mental and emotional health concerns that may drive some older adults to gamble excessively."


Part two of our series on gambling and senior citizens explores the potential risks associated with online gambling compared to traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. The article delves into the unique challenges posed by online gambling and highlights why it can be more problematic for senior individuals than physically visiting a casino.


The Dangers of Gambling

"Gambling addiction is a growing concern among the elderly population, which poses several severe health risks beyond just financial troubles," said Attorney Connelly. "Studies have shown that compulsive gambling can trigger various health problems, including but not limited to obesity, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, migraine headaches, depression, and other stress-related conditions."


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Health issues and gambling

Moreover, research suggests that compulsive gamblers tend to have a higher rate of emergency room visits than their peers of the same age. It is essential to address the issue of gambling addiction among seniors to prevent the adverse impact it can have on their overall health and well-being. Here are a few of the reasons:


  • Spending hours in casinos and not taking medications as directed or not at all.

  • For those who smoke, they tend to increase their tobacco use when stressed out by their financial losses.

  • Hours spent in the casinos, even among non-smokers, expose them to second-hand smoke.

  • Casino operators want to keep seniors spending, so providing free alcohol loosens up the gambler as rational decision-making suffers.

  • Using alcohol after the fact to cope with the mounting financial losses.

  • Poor diet (not eating correctly while gambling or lacking funds to buy healthy food).

  • Lack of exercise.

Gambling addiction can have profound consequences on one's mental health, leading to depression and anxiety disorders. According to a recent study, over 30% of individuals with gambling problems had considered taking their own lives in the past year. Interestingly, gambling addiction tends to emerge later in life compared to other forms of addiction, such as alcohol or opiates. There are several reasons behind this phenomenon which are worth exploring.


Gambling Disorder

As mentioned in our first blog post, casinos actively target older adults as their clientele. This is because seniors have typically accumulated wealth over the years and have more leisure time. Casinos employ various tactics to attract them, such as providing free bus trips, complimentary buffet meals, attentive casino staff, and even discounted prescription drugs. By doing so, they tap into the psychology of seniors and understand that gambling offers them both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that they find appealing.


Extrinsic Rewards

An extrinsic reward is a reward given to an individual for achieving a particular goal or task. This type of reward is usually tangible and visible. It can be of monetary value, such as a salary increase, a bonus, or an award that can be displayed on a wall.


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The promise of winning big

When it comes to gambling, extrinsic rewards tend to have a solid appeal to seniors. The hope of winning money or even the possibility of winning big can be an attractive proposition, especially for those seeking to supplement their retirement income or to afford some things that may have been out of their reach. The lure of extrinsic rewards can appeal to the desire for financial gain and seniors' basic daily survival needs.


Intrinsic Rewards

Intrinsic rewards are an essential aspect of employee motivation. These rewards are derived from the accomplishment and satisfaction individuals experience when completing their tasks or projects successfully. Unlike extrinsic rewards, such as bonuses and promotions, intrinsic rewards are intangible and appeal to an individual's emotional and psychological needs, such as their sense of self-worth and personal fulfillment.


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Escape boredom while going broke

However, intrinsic rewards can also have negative implications, particularly when it comes to gambling. For many seniors who have retired, gambling provides a social outlet that they no longer have access to at work. It also presents an opportunity to escape the loneliness and boredom that plague many older adults, as well as the pain and grief associated with the losses they experience as they age. While casino operators may deny that they exploit these vulnerabilities, they are aware of these issues and take advantage of them.


Research shows that gambling problems tend to emerge in people who are experiencing major life changes or significant losses. Unfortunately, these are the issues that aging adults face as they navigate the many transitions that come with growing old. As a result, many seniors turn to gambling to cope with the overwhelming challenges of aging, and the environment in which it occurs can be very enticing and alluring.


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Online Casino Gambling

There has been a lot of buzz around the gambling industry, including the growth of traditional casinos and the proliferation of the online gambling business. Despite the concerns and issues associated with casinos, our legislators continue to support gambling, and casinos continue opening throughout the country. Sports betting is being approved nationwide, and states continue to offer new and more extravagant lotteries.


Now, with the increasing use of the internet and rising computer literacy among baby boomers, online casinos have become the new trend in the gambling industry. The driving force behind the online casino business in the United States is the revenue generated by taxes. As the states make money, the potential dangers associated with online gambling may pose a more significant problem than traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. Here are ten reasons why online gambling can be risky:


No Need to Leave Home

When it comes to seniors with a gambling problem, visiting a physical casino can be safer than gambling online. If a senior leaves home to go to a casino, their absence can be easily noticed, and someone can intervene if necessary. However, with the rise of online gambling, seniors can easily gamble from the comfort of their homes or even on the go using their smartphones without anyone else realizing what is happening. This can lead to a particularly dangerous situation, as gambling can occur in any place that offers an internet connection, such as a store, a bus, or even in bed.


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Credit cards make losing money easy

Instant Decisions

One of the critical differences between online gambling and traditional casinos is the ease of access to one's credit account. In a physical casino, a player must physically get up, go to an ATM, and withdraw money. This physical process provides a moment for the player to consider whether the money being withdrawn is a wise choice. However, in the online world, gambling can be impulsive, as access to one's credit account is just a click away. This means that money can be spent in less than a second, without any physical barriers to help the player reconsider their decision.


Instant Exposure

One of the primary goals of treating individuals with gambling addiction is to limit their exposure to the environment that triggers the activity. This involves avoiding places like casinos, bars, convenience stores, and other areas where gambling might be prevalent. However, online gambling makes it challenging to implement this strategy. With the advent of smartphones and high-speed Internet access, gambling has become more accessible than ever. Online gambling sites are available 24/7, and with a computer or smartphone at hand, the gambler can easily engage in the activity from the comfort of their own home or on the go. This easy access can make it particularly challenging to break the addiction cycle.


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Beware of fraud

Sketchy Operators

In various countries around the world, online gambling is an illegal activity. As a result, the regulatory framework for online casinos is not well-defined, with many laws and regulations being insufficient or non-existent. The sketchy nature of these regulations makes it a daunting task to track down the operators of such businesses if fraud or any other fraudulent activity occurs. This lack of transparency and accountability makes it almost impossible to recover any lost money, leaving the victims with little or no recourse to seek justice. It is essential to exercise caution and due diligence when engaging in any online gambling activity to avoid falling victim to fraudulent activities.


Offers of Free Money

When you visit an online casino website, you will encounter enticing offers of "free play" that are hard to resist. This offer promises the player the chance to play without depositing any money and the possibility of winning big. However, it's important to understand that these free plays are just an attempt to entice you to gamble with real money. Once you start playing with your money, the odds will eventually turn against you, and you may find yourself losing more often than winning. It's essential to understand the house odds, which are designed to favor the casino and to gamble responsibly. While gambling can be an enjoyable pastime, it is crucial to set limits, know when to stop, and never gamble more than you can afford to lose.


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Electronic spending doesn't feel real

Lack of Tangible Reminders

When visiting a casino, physically holding money in one's hands and placing a twenty-dollar bill into a slot machine is a tangible reminder of the value and reality of the money being spent. However, when it comes to online gambling, it can be easy to forget that electronic money is just as real as physical currency. Players can often deposit funds into their online accounts using credit cards, leading to a sense of detachment from the actual monetary value being spent. As losses mount and the account balance dwindles, it can become easy to continue making deposits and chasing losses without fully realizing the impact on one's finances.


Collusion Among Players

Collusion between players in a regulated casino is considered a severe offense and can lead to criminal charges, hefty fines, and imprisonment. The law enforcement agencies are vigilant in such cases and ensure the culprits are brought to justice. However, in the case of unregulated internet casinos, the situation is quite different. Online collusion in poker games between players is a frequent practice, and many players engage in it to cheat other players out of their money. It's common for internet casino players to collaborate and defraud other online players by sitting in the same room. This behavior is unethical and illegal, and players who engage in it should be held accountable for their actions.


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Ultimately the house will always win

No Policies to Enforce

Casinos with physical locations can take measures to prevent individuals with gambling addictions from entering their premises, such as identifying and banning them. However, the same cannot be said for online gambling sites. While many online gambling platforms claim to have implemented measures to prevent problem gambling, there is no effective way to enforce these policies legitimately. As a result, problem gamblers may still have access to these sites and continue to engage in harmful gambling behavior.


Alcohol Use with No Limits

When compared to brick-and-mortar casinos, online wagering provides an environment where players can consume alcohol or drugs without being monitored. This can lead to them being under the influence while gambling, which can impact the amount of time and money they spend. The losses incurred during this time may not be immediately apparent to the player and could only become evident once they have sobered up.


Personal Information Mining

When individuals engage in internet gambling, they often need to share sensitive personal information or provide their credit card details to online gambling websites. Unfortunately, not all these websites may be legitimate, which poses a significant risk to the players. This is because there is a high possibility of credit card fraud and other forms of abuse in such scenarios. Players must exercise caution and respond appropriately to protect themselves from these risks.


A Final Word

“Dealing with a loved one who has a gambling problem is probably one of the most difficult addictions to address,” stated Attorney Connelly. “An alcoholic can always avoid alcohol, but a problem gambler cannot avoid contact with money. There are utilities to pay, food to buy, car fuel, and prescriptions to fill. If we want to keep our seniors at home and aging in place, having someone manage their money makes sense if gambling is an issue for them. This way, all concerned can be sure they will continue to have a home to age in.”


In our next blog post, we will delve into the various signs that may indicate a person is struggling with problem gambling. We understand how important it is to identify these signs early on, so we will provide you with a detailed analysis of the symptoms and behaviors that could signify an underlying gambling addiction. Additionally, we will explore the several types of interventions that can be put into place to help individuals overcome their gambling problems and start on the path to recovery. We hope that by shedding light on this critical topic, we can help raise awareness and encourage those struggling with problem gambling to seek the support they need. Additional help can be found by going to the National Council on Problem Gambling where you can find help in whatever state you are in.


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Please note that the information provided in this blog is not intended to and should not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The content, materials, and information presented in this blog are solely for general informational purposes and may not be the most up-to-date information available regarding legal, financial, or medical matters. This blog may also contain links to other third-party websites that are included for the convenience of the reader or user. Please note that Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. does not necessarily recommend or endorse the contents of such third-party sites. If you have any particular legal matters, financial concerns, or medical issues, we strongly advise you to consult your attorney, professional fiduciary advisor, or medical provider.

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