As the analysis of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) of data provided by the UK Gambling Commission suggests, the number of UK residents who are over 65 and gamble at least once a month is 620,000 larger compared to 2019.
Psychiatrists Are Warning Authorities Of The Rising Problem
Psychiatrists have warned authorities of a potential increase in gambling problems in over-65s as the data indicates the highest rise in online betting among the age group. They believe that a contributing factor for the increase in the time spent gambling is isolation at home, which led to higher reliance on TV and social media platforms such as Facebook to stay entertained and contact the outside world.
Gambling ads on these platforms could have led elderly people to online gambling platforms. This makes sense in light of the growing number of gambling ads during the pandemic. Countries around the world have noticed the same trend, including the Netherlands.
Additional reasons as to why over-65s are more likely to be exposed to online betting could be financial worries, disruption of normal routine, and anxiety, all of which could be caused by isolation at home during the pandemic.
Statistics indicate that on a year-over-year comparison between September 2019 and 2021, the number of over-65s participating in online betting was 4.8% higher, meaning the nine-month period of each respective year.
The age group between 55 and 64 saw a 0.9% increase, 45-54 saw an increase of 4.5%, 35-44 saw an increase of 0.1%, while age groups 16-24 and 25-34 recorded a decrease.
The director of Clean Up Gambling, Matt Zarb-Cousin, stated that the risk of developing an addiction is higher with online gambling platforms due to the fact that they are not as regulated as land-based facilities and are easier to access.
Zarb-Cousin also added that elderly people who are at home are much more vulnerable as only have their laptops, TVs, and Facebook to keep in touch with people and thus, are constantly targeted by marketing campaigns. The data provided by the UK Gambling Commission, which excludes national lottery gambling, stated that 13.5% of over-65s gambled online in 2021. In comparison, 8.7% of the people in this group gambled online in the year to September 2019.
Counselors Could Have an Increase in Older People In Need of Treatment
Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a spokesperson for RCP on behavioral addictions, stated that the pandemic has “shaken our lives in so many ways” and one of those anomalies, as the data suggests, is an increase in online gambling by elderly people.
Bowden-Jones acknowledged the fact that not everyone that bets or plays casino games will develop an addiction to gambling, but some will, which is still dangerous as it can lead to anxiety, depression, and ultimately, suicidal thoughts.
The increased number of gamblers over 65 means that counselors are prepared for a higher number of elderly people who need treatment. Bowden-Jones questioned whether the UK will see a large portion of problematic gamblers in their 60s and 70s from now on.
UKGC’s data also indicated that the number of women who participate in online gambling activities has also increased to 16.2% from 13.2%. Male gambling activities remained the same more or less.