Psychiatrists Warn Seniors 65+ Are Gambling More in the UK

Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently reviewed data from the Gambling Commission and concluded that patrons 65+ are betting more online than ever before.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) recently conducted a review of data collected by the Gambling Commission regarding gambling habits. The review resulted in the group discovering that a larger number of 65 and older individuals are developing problem gambling due to online betting. Around 620,000 individuals in this age group gamble at least once a month when compared to 2019. It is believed that isolation at home and more contact with social media and television have exposed the age group to more gambling advertising and online gambling services.

Relying on Gambling for Entertainment and Comfort

2019 was the last year before the pandemic hit, and it marks a shift in the gambling habits of older people. The study seems to reveal that isolation during lockdown along with financial worry and a change to everyday routines could be the reason behind people turning to gambling as a form of entertainment. The increase in online gambling is actually higher than the decrease in betting shops connected to social distancing restrictions.

Spokesperson for RCP in the behavioral addictions section, Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones, commented that the pandemic has changed the lives of people in many ways. The data indicates that more older people are turning to online gambling than they were before the pandemic began.

Bodwen-Jones pointed out that of course, not everyone who gambles will have a gambling disorder. However, some will. It is an illness and gambling disorder is not treated, it can lead to anxiety, depression, and other issues, even suicidal thoughts.

The risk of addiction is higher when it comes to online gambling because of convenience, as well as lower restrictions when it comes to the speed of betting and stakes. Limits have been placed on fixed-odds betting terminals in the UK, but online slot games can spin every few seconds and do not have such restrictions when it comes to betting limits.

Affecting the Older Population

After the pandemic began in 2020, older people were sticking close to home, especially during lockdown. This age group are at home and only have television or the internet to keep them company. The isolation is heavy and it can lead to an increase in gambling in general due to marketing materials constantly popping up online and on television, which is how older people are spending their time.

In late 2019, it was estimated that only 8.7% of 65+ year olds were gambling online. The percentage increased to 13.5% this year based on figures by the Gambling Commission, and this number does not include the national lottery.

The biggest increase in online gambling was seen in the 65+ age group then followed by 45 to 54 year olds. In this group, the increase was around 340,000 gamblers during the pandemic. Because of the increase in numbers, counselors are now preparing for an increase in the need for treatment among the older generations.

Women have also increased their betting time during the pandemic. Females are gambling at a 16.2% rate rather than just over 13%. For men, the percentage remains roughly the same.

Now that the details of this study are out, it will be interesting to see if the UKGC decides to make any new changes for player safety. The industry continues to offer up new restrictions or regulations in order to keep players safe. We may see over time that changes are made to protect the elderly as they start to gamble more online than ever before.

Associate Writer: Suzie has extensive experience writing on a number of different topics, but writing on slots remains her first love, and it really shows.