Growing Old Gambling

NARRATOR: These slots are not your grandma’s one-armed bandits. Today’s casino games are interactive and immersive. Casino gambling is moving to the next level – trusted online casino canada.

DR. ROBERT HUNTER: The ability to gamble on your phone, the ability to gamble through your TV set, that makes me a little nervous, just because that’s never happened before.

JERRY BAUERKEMPER: My prediction is in the next 10 or 15 years, our millennial’s will be out of the casinos and on the phones gambling. But our older adults are still, they’re land-based, they’re walls-and-concrete gamblers. ELIZABETH: I won a jackpot of $35,000 one time. It was always the draw of, can it happen again? It did, it does. And so that kept me going.

NARRATOR: As the gambling industry zeroes in on millennial’s, older players continue to put millions into a proven, highly addictive technology, the slot machine. BAUERKEMPER: The odds are so much stacked against you. ELIZABETH: I pretty much started dipping into my 401K at age 59 1/2. I’ll be 63 next month.

NARRATOR: Gambling is fun entertainment for most. But for those that are addicted, it can be destructive. BAUERKEMPER: If you’re a million dollars in, is there a jackpot out there that you can win that’s gonna get you out from underneath that? Then you have to take bigger bets, and so you get deeper and deeper.

DON FEENEY: You can make the argument that the generation that is most susceptible for develop gambling as a problematic behavior are baby boomers.

JERRY BAUERKEMPER: Older adults have more time, more resources, than younger adults, and they are more willing to go places, socially. Young people are stuck on their phone. That’s how they socialize.

They play games, they talk to each other with Twitter. Older adults many times use casinos, bingo parlors, keno places, as social places. It’s a place to go, it’s my night out. Wouldn’t you go someplace where everyone was like you? And so they’re all congregating there. (slot game chimes) (upbeat tropical music) NARRATOR: Online video slots are gaining popularity with today’s older adults.

Slots consistently ranked in the top 10 in app stores. Social games offer free play, and entice users to pay for extras. Social casino games have a $3.4 billion emerging market, according to industry research. Free games, like Candy Crush and Angry Birds, seem destined for the casino betting floor. BAUERKEMPER: The next hybrid of gambling will be kind of a mix between gaming, the Candy Crushes, and gambling, the online, you know, slot machines, or the online poker games.

We’re morphing to a game where trusted online casino canada can have it on their floor, and on their apps, and so we’re moving slowly from buildings to phones. As we all get more comfortable, and I’m in that older adult age, 55 and older, I’m getting more and more comfortable using my phone for everything. And so, it’s not a big step as we age, and as basically the apps get easier to use, we will make that transition to your phone. And people will be able to lose their lives, their financial and emotional and physical lives, while looking at an app.

NARRATOR: Jerry Bauerkemper runs a 24-hour gamblers’ hotline. BAUERKEMPER: We have people that answer the phone, in the offices, and then we have people in the evening that are doing it out of their home. We have multiple lines, and so you’re not gonna get a busy signal. In fact, I got the 2am call last night. And then we will immediately call connect them with a counselor.

And so, they will get someone who knows about gambling, who works with gamblers, absolutely that minute. ELIZABETH: I had a moment of crisis. I was thinking of committing suicide because I had ran out of money to pay rent. I had no money to pay my credit cards, my cell phone bill.

I had written bad checks. So I felt hopeless, totally hopeless. I’m pulling my hair out because I just wanted to kill myself. I just had this awful feeling that I had to do it, and I had two ways to do it even, two ways that I was thinking of doing it. And then I decided to call the 1-800-BETSOFF. And they took me to the hospital where I stayed for five days.

NARRATOR: Elizabeth is an actuary for a major Nebraska insurance firm. Her job is to mathematically measure and manage risk. ELIZABETH: Roughly 19 years that I’ve lived in Lincoln, probably didn’t go to the trusted online casino canada at all, didn’t even know they existed out there.

Kind of pretended like, big deal, I’d rather go to Vegas.

NARRATOR: Total Rewards is the nation’s most popular casino and entertainment loyalty program. ELIZABETH: Got lured in with the coupons that they used to give you. You’d have to show up with them, and they would give you cash or tickets to put in the machines. And the amount of times that we went started to increase. The amounts that I started gambling with increased from pennies, nickels, to quarters, to dollars, to five dollars, to $25 slot machines.

A constant march to the trusted online casino canada, and I would go in the middle of the night after everybody was asleep. I pretty much started dipping into my 401K at age 59 1/2. I’ll be 63 next month. So I’ve had a couple of years where I’ve been able to drain that account, which probably had close to $500,000, if not more, in it. I also drained an annuity and an IRA.

So probably close to $750,000, if not more. I was playing thousands of dollars, maxing out on my credit cards. And if I won, I would put the money back in that week, and then go back to the casino the following week, and withdraw that same $2,000, or whatever cash allowance that I had, and put that back in the machine. Sometimes I would be able to pay it off, and sometimes I would not be able to pay it off. I am a Seven Star player. I got all of the VIP treatments, gifts, and things of that nature.

I would get coupons for three nights free at one of the hotels. Then there would also be nights where you would win extra tier points, which can translate to cash later on. NARRATOR: With counseling, Elizabeth requested self-exclusion from Iowa casinos.

This lifetime ban is irrevocable, yet it does not include Iowa’s tribal casinos.

ELIZABETH: Well, I first blame myself for being so stupid. Secondly I do blame the government for making it a legal entity, which at this point in time in the history of gambling is impossible to burn down.

And third, yes, I do believe the casino enabled me to some degree, yes. By offering me all these perks. (traffic rumbles) CAROL O’HARE: I think we as people in recovery, we owe something to those who are still struggling. O’HARE: That one. NARRATOR: Carol O’Hare is the Executive Director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling in Las Vegas, a crisis intervention and referral group. O’HARE: Recovery is a day-at-a-time process.

But it’s a forever process. By day, I sold computers for a living and explained to intelligent adults how you can’t be smarter than that microchip, and how the computer is operating on a nanosecond, and you can’t be smarter than the computer. And I would get off work, and proceed right to my local gaming establishment and sit down in front of a computer, a video poker machine, that somehow in that moment, I thought I could be smarter than the nanosecond and the microchip. It’s a very insidious addiction. It hijacks everything that is logical and sane about your thinking, and causes you to act in the most illogical, insane way. When you look specifically at women, when you look at older women, I can tell you that their faces look very similar.

They typically are women who, they’ve raised their family, they’ve, you know, they’ve had the successful career, they’ve had the good marriage, but as you know, once we get older, you know, life can get tougher. And when you start to experience losses, sort of the perfect storm that can happen, and particularly in a community like Vegas where people may come here to retire. NARRATOR: Las Vegas is a top retirement destination, with 24-hour gambling fun near you. O’HARE: So you work your whole life, you’ve got this great plan, you executed the plan, you raised your family, you come to Las Vegas, you move into a great retirement community, you and your spouse, and you’re gonna live out your golden years.

And then one of you has a catastrophic illness. Maybe one of you dies. Suddenly you have this person whose golden year plan has been taken out from under them.

ANNA: I was a teacher in Colorado Springs, and so I had saved quite a bit of money there, ’cause there’s not a lot of gambling or anything. (quiet, intense music) ANNA: So I moved down here with my daughter, and that was my main purpose, was to move here and gamble. I’m 77 years old, and my game of choice was video poker. First started off as the nickel machines, and then quarters, and then I decided, OK, I’ll try the penny machines, you know. But you can’t win unless you do the max. It’s gonna take all my money, and then I’m going to wind up tryin’ to find ways to pay bills and all that kind of, just misery.

But I couldn’t stop. Just, I don’t know why, what was goin’ on, you know, I would say, “This is horrible, why are you doin’ this?” But then I would still just go do it. “Well, I get $100, and maybe I won’t “pay that bill now, but maybe I’ll just “pay the late fees, and I’ll do this.”

But, oh, it’s awful. I had about $50,000 or $60,000 saved, so when I moved down here, I proceeded to lose all of that. DR. ROBERT HUNTER: She’s a prototypical senior patient.

She moved here because she was attracted to gambling, and then her gambling slipped off the rails. The average age of gamblers in Las Vegas is creepin’ up and up. It’s interesting, though, that a significant percentage, actually over 30% of my patients here at the Problem Gambling Center, are over 51 years of age. So it’s not like this is a small group. I’m the founder and director of the Problem Gambling Center. We arguably are the largest gambling clinic in the country.

Certainly one of the oldest. There are four or five percent of the population that gambles that just can’t gamble, in the same way there’s a percentage of people that just can’t drink. The neurobiology of addiction is really freakishly similar.

My patients gambling on brain scans look like alcoholics drunk, look like addicts on pain pills. It’s the same switch that gets thrown. The manifestation of the illness is a little bit different for gamblers, though. It’s a little more devilish, because of that chase phenomenon. “Well, I’m in trouble, but the only way “to solve the trouble is to do some more of this.”

“This which is killin’ me is the “only thing that’ll fix me, “so lemme go get my rent money to win back “my car money, lemme go get my 401K money…” It’s that progressive… I’ve never had a late-stage alcoholic say, “If I get drunk just right, my liver will heal.” But my patients sincerely say, “If I could just get $1,000, I’d win back my 401K.” The overwhelming percentage of problem gamblers that are female play video machines. I think the addiction is in the individual, not in the game, but they are the game of choice for my gamblers. Because my gamblers aren’t really lookin’ for fun or excitement or money, they’re lookin’ for escape.

And the machine is a good avenue for escape. ANNA: Go to G.A., or just you know, a program like this, anything to help yourself. Because it’s going to get worse and worse and worse, and you know, some people actually, ’cause I was actually getting to think, “Oh, suicide,” you know, “I’ve gotta get rid “of myself, I can’t do this anymore.”

And “I hate feeling this way.” So get help.

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