Study labels 1/3 Bus-Riding Seniors as Problem Gamblers

Stop the Bus: Study say 30% of old people who take casino bus tours have a gambling problem.

Casino Bus ToursAre you age 55 or above? Do you ever take a ride on the casino bus tours offered by land-based gambling resorts? If so, you may be a problem gambler! At least, that’s what some researchers are claiming.

According to a study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, chronology, casino bus tours, and gambling addiction go hand in hand. They report that 30.2% of older adults who hop a ride to the local casino on a bus tour have a moderate to severe gambling problem.

Researchers titled the study “A Free Ride? An Analysis of the Association of Casino Bus Tours and Problem Gambling Among Older Adults”. They say seniors who take advantage of these so-called ‘free rides‘ are playing bad odds, as nearly 1 in 3 are (or may soon be) addicted to gambling.

The study was paid for by Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, and published June 23, 2017 in the Addiction journal.

Linking Addiction and Casino Bus Tours

Lead author and post-doctoral at the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Dr. Mark van der Maas commented on the report in a YouTube video. “There’s a high proportion of problem gamblers on these buses,” he said.

The author noted a “clear connection” between the casino bus tours and the elderly. He said gambling resorts often target this age group with special promotions. They may receive a free ride, free meals, and discounts on accommodations.

Van der Maas believes these targeted promotions are negatively impacting the individuals who accept them. He and his team of researchers surveyed 2,000 customers from seven Ontario slots venues, all operated by the provincial regulators of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG).

According to the data collected, the majority of casino bus tour patrons share a few notable qualities. They are female, aged 75 or above, and were born outside of Canada.

Most of the casino bus tours patrons who did fall into the classification of ‘problem gambler’ were only considered to have a moderate gambling problem. However, in the greater scope of things, of the 1 in 500 seniors said to suffer from a severe gambling addiction, 1 in 10 of those take casino bus tours to gamble.

Call For Stricter Marketing Regulations

Van der Maas believes it is the responsibility of the Ontario government to put a stop to casinos targeting elderly patrons. In particular, he fears for those in nursing homes, who receive ‘free ride’ promotions. He says it’s time to tighten up the regulations in terms of casino marketing tactics.

“While the majority of older adults gamble without serious issues, the progression into problem gambling can be especially fast and hard-hitting for this age group because of diminished financial and social resources,” said Dr. van der Maas.

A co-author on the study, Dr. Nigel Turner agreed with this assessment. He is urging regulators to enforce more strict guidelines for marketing promotional campaigns, especially where the elderly are concerned.

He also believes, “Problem gambling prevention information efforts should be directed towards this population.”


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