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J Gambl Stud. 2006 Jun;22(2):241-54. doi: 10.1007/s10899-006-9013-9. Epub 2006 Jul 12.

Characteristics of older adult problem gamblers calling a gambling helpline.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut Mental Health Center, Room S-104, 34 Park Street, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.



Few investigations have characterized groups of older adults with gambling problems, and published reports are currently limited by small samples of older adult problem gamblers. Gambling helplines represent a widespread mechanism for assisting problem gamblers to move into treatment settings. Given data from older adult problem gamblers in treatment, we hypothesized that older as compared with younger adult problem gamblers calling a gambling helpline would be less likely to report gambling-related problems.


Logistic regression analyses were performed on data obtained from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2001, inclusive, from callers with gambling problems (N = 1,084) contacting the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling Helpline.


Of the 1,018 phone calls used in the logistic regression analyses, 168 (16.5%) were from older adults and 850 (83.5%) from younger adults. Age-related differences were observed in demographic features, types and patterns of gambling reported as problematic, gambling-related problems and psychiatric symptoms, substance use problems, patterns of indebtedness, and family histories of addictive disorders. Older as compared with younger adult problem gamblers were more likely to report having lower incomes, longer durations of gambling, fewer types of problematic gambling, and problems with casino slot machine gambling and less likely to report gambling-related anxiety, family problems, illegal behaviors and arrests, drug problems, indebtedness to bookies or acquaintances, family histories of drug abuse, and problems with casino table gambling.


Older as compared with younger adult problem gamblers calling a gambling helpline differ on many clinically relevant features. The findings suggest the need for improved and unique prevention and treatment strategies for older adults with gambling problems.

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