There has been a steady increase in gambling over the last few years with a deregulation of betting shops, state lotteries and online gambling. The growth in gambling participation has included older adults who have more time on their hands and, if they are lucky, a good disposable income. 35% of older adults reported lifetime gambling in 1975, a figure that had increased to 80% by 1998. In 1975 23% reported having gambled in the past year compared to 50% in 1998. The increase in gambling behaviour among older adults was more dramatic than in all other age groups. While most older adults gamble for recreation and do so responsibly a minority develop problem gambling or pathological gambling. A survey of 40 older adults with lifetime pathological gambling in Illinois and Iowa used established mental-health screening tools to see what other mental-health problems they might have. The results indicated a high level of other mental illnesses including depression, alcohol dependence, panic disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and avoidant personality disorders.
Kerber, Cindy Sullivan, Black, Donald W. and Buckwater, Kathleen - Comorbid psychiatric disorders among older recovering pathological gamblers. Issues in Mental Health Nursing 2008, 29(9), 1018-1028