Campus News

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

News Release

January 24, 2005

Senior gamblers have strategies to minimize risk, profs say

Since casino gambling was legalized in Ontario in 1992, the number of at-risk Canadian gamblers has grown, but in a new study, University of Guelph professors have found that most senior gamblers they surveyed use strategies that keep their hobby under control. Based on this research, the professors have received more funding from the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre to create a detailed profile of older adult gamblers in smaller Ontario communities.

Family relations and applied nutrition professors Joseph Tindale and Joan Norris surveyed seniors in southern Ontario to determine how and why they gamble. Group bus excursions to “racinos” – racetracks with slot machines – that leave in the morning, provide lunch and return by dinnertime, were the most popular forms of gambling among the seniors surveyed.

“We found that many seniors see gambling excursions as having the positive function of providing recreation, safe transportation and a way to get out of the house and do things they enjoy,” said Tindale.

Because most of the seniors surveyed set strict gambling limits of about $50 and view gambling as a way to socialize with friends, gambling does not affect other activities in their lives and puts them at a very low risk for problem gambling, said the researchers.

“It’s probably an effect of being a member of this older cohort,” said Norris. “They might be more accustomed to saving money, and they didn’t grow up with the gambling venues that are now available.”

Of the people surveyed, the majority didn’t start gambling until they were at least 50. Tindale said there seems to be a correlation between when they began gambling and when casinos became legalized in the province.

In their newest study, Tindale and Norris want to create a profile of who these older gamblers are in small-town Ontario.

Of the 24 casinos and racetrack slots in Ontario, 21 are located in small or rural communities, where there are larger populations of seniors, fewer entertainment options and less access to social pursuits, said Norris. With the help of United Senior Citizens of Ontario, she and Tindale will survey members of seniors clubs in seven Ontario rural counties with casinos and/or racetrack slots.

Data will be collected through interviews and surveys to assess gambling attitudes, practices and risk status.

The researchers are hoping to get a sense of how family patterns of gambling affect people’s gambling habits and their attitudes towards gambling. “We want to know if their parents or grandparents gambled to find out if it was an accepted cultural thing or taboo in their families,” said Tindale.

Added Norris: “We do hope there will be some prevention implications. Given the low rates of problem gambling, we figure that older people have something to say in telling younger people how to stay out of trouble.”

Joan Norris

Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 53782, or

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

Studies on how casino designs and temperament link to problem gambling:

Karen Finlay
Department of Consumer Studies
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 53347, or

Study on link between strict parenting and gambling

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

Email this entry to:

Message (optional):