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Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 08, 2007

Gambling Can Be Safe Recreational Activity for Seniors, Study Says

Senior citizens play it safe when it comes to gambling, according to a recent University of Guelph study on gambling among Ontario rural seniors.

Instead of playing to win, a majority of older people gamble as a way to socialize, said University of Guelph family and relations professor Joseph Tindale, who worked with Joan Norris, dean of graduate studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, on a one-year study funded by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre.

“There is the assumption that older people are more likely to be incompetent gamblers and therefore more likely to be problem gamblers, but that’s not the case,” said Tindale. “A majority of the older people who gamble can do so safely and without jeopardizing their retirement funds or their children’s inheritance.”

After surveying close to 2,200 seniors from rural Ontario who like to gamble, Tindale and Norris found that about 80 per cent were regular gamblers and just seven per cent could be categorized as having a moderate to high risk of becoming problem gamblers.

“That’s a very low percentage, and not all seven per cent will end up to be problem gamblers,” said Tindale. “It’s the highly active people who tend to be the ones who gamble, so gambling is not the only thing they do and is not the most important thing they do.”

The results of the study showed casino gambling is the most popular form of gambling among older people. Tindale said senior citizens enjoy taking bus trips to casinos because it’s an easy and inexpensive way to socialize. When they do go on bus trips, older people will typically spend $50 and leave their credit cards at home, he said.

“They have their own preventive strategies and don’t chase their losses.”

The study also showed that older people with relatives who have gambled and have a positive attitude towards gambling were more likely to be responsible gamblers.

Since wrapping up this study, Tindale and his colleague have received a second grant of $197,000 from the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre to conduct a three-year survey of people 45 and older living in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph area.

“How people gamble and why they gamble will be different with each successive age cohort because their history with regard to gambling will be different,” said Tindale. “As the gambling environment keeps changing, so do the people.”

He said baby boomers will have different gambling habits than seniors because they have more disposable income and are more comfortable with gambling online.

This second survey will also examine the different behaviours and attitudes towards gambling among a variety of ethnic cultures.

To participate in the confidential online survey visit,

Tindale said the results gathered from both surveys will add to our knowledge of gambling behaviours and attitudes, as well as help provincial policy-makers develop responsible gambling programs and prevention and intervention strategies to combat problem gambling.

Joseph Tindale
Depatrtment of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
519-824-4120, Ext. 53796, or

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338.

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