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Is gambling worth jail time?

After embezzling $350,000 from her job, Marilyn Lancelot was arrested at age 61 as experts note increasing severity in gambling addiction amongst women nearing retirement. She is now 86 and lives in Arizona, reflecting on serving almost a year in prison and being a compulsive gambler for seven years before that.

HeraldTribune reports that Sandra Adell—a 70 year old Afro-American Studies literature professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—recalls her obsessive gambling experiences in the book, “Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen.” that “Casinos are trained to make you feel welcome, while you lose your life.”. While talking to reporter Tanya Mohn, she notes that gambling advertisements aimed at the older demographic tend to portray individuals of their age smiling, looking beautiful and having a fantastic time, “to create an illusion that plays to people’s weaknesses.”

The executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, Keith Whyte, mentions that the severity and scope of gambling addiction for aging women close to or currently experiencing their retirement looks to be on the rise with effects to personal finances.

I thought I’d win the big one deep down in my heart, … Every gambler says that.

While there are less women who tend to face gambling addiction issues compared to women, Whyte insists that, “the rapid development of problems, is especially pronounced in senior women. Once they tap into retirement savings, it’s incredibly hard — if they are ever able — to rebuild those savings.” He then went on to conclude that gambling addiction can extend onto other problems such as bladder issues being worse off where sufferers that play on the slot machines will tend to stay on the machine and aggravate their problem, ultimately overlapping with the original addictive qualities that come with slot machines.

Patricia Healy, an addiction counseling specialist and therapist in New Jersey shares her concerns that gambling addiction amongst older people, “is a hot issue and under-noticed in this country.”.

On a positive note, Neva Pryor—the executive director at the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey—publicly advised that elderly individuals can seek assistance in planning their time and finances before they reach retirement and get second opinions on any habits that may develop into a problem later in life, and control it before the opportunity for it to do so arises.

Not every country have organisations dedicated to the helping, preventing and treating of gambling addiction whether it’s poker, slots or another form of gambling but luckily in the US – we do and have advocates across the states pushing for and supporting responsible gambling.