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Are Older People Gambling More Online?

close up old man using laptop and bank card to gambleSince the launch of online betting, the regularity of people placing bets has increased. This isn’t overly surprising, when you consider the fact that online betting is much more convenient than having to head to a bookmaker’s shop in order to place a bet when an event comes around. At the same time, people that were relatively young when online betting first became popular have grown older, meaning that they’ve moved into an age bracket that is generally considered to be ‘older’ by the government and people looking into such things as the age of bettors.

When bookmakers had to close their doors because of the health situation around the world, those that would normally head to a bookies to place their bet were instead forced to turn online when they wanted to place their wagers. This will have seen an increase in online bettors, but not necessarily an increase in the number of people within an older age bracket that were placing bets. That is to say, if there were ten people who placed bets in 2018, with five of them being done in the betting shop in person, that figure would have increased to ten online bettors in 2020 even though the same number of people were betting.

What The Research Says

graph arrows up and downIn December 2021, the Royal College of Psychiatrists looked at data from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission and said that the evidence was that there had been a rise in problem gambling amongst the over-65s. The data showed that around 620,000 people over the age of 65 were gambling than in 2019, which was a bigger increase than in any other age group. There was a decrease in online gambling from those aged between 16 and 24 as well as the 25 to 34 bracket, but every other age group increased between September 2019 and September 2021.

The Director of Clean Up Gambling, Matt Zarb-Cousin, said that the risk of becoming a problem gambler is worse for people who engage with online gambling, largely thanks to how accessible it it. Online betting also tends to be much quicker and have fewer restrictions in terms of stake size than betting on the likes of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals that you’d find in betting shops. The research shows that the surge in online gambling amongst the over 65s was the largest of any of the age groups looked at.

Why More Older People Might Be Gambling

older person using phone to gamble various expressions

The fear from some campaign groups was that people aged 65 and over were more exposed to gambling adverts on TV and social media than in the past. This is largely thanks to the fact that they were seeing fewer people, therefore turning to other methods of having social contact. Upon seeing the adverts for gambling companies, older people were then more likely to sign up for a betting account and to begin placing bets than in the years when they were not using their computers or watching television as much.

Of course, the simple fact is that online gambling launched in mid-1990s and became popular during the early part of the 21st century. As a result, there were more than a few people who would have been under the age bracket of 65+ in 2019 that would still have been betting online a lot. By 2021, however, those people had turned 65 and were then being included in the information for older people when the information was gathered in 2021. This doesn’t necessarily mean that more older people are betting, but rather that more bettors are getting older.

The Downsides To Older People Betting Online

betting onlineIf the information about older people betting online is accurate, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. It would be entirely reasonable for older people who normally placed their wagers in betting shops to have turned online during the period of time when betting shops were closed down, alongside other places up and down the country. This would not have been a problem in and of itself, but the truth is that betting companies rarely have only a sportsbook on offer in his day and age, with many having things like casinos available.

Older people might not be as good at maintaining their discipline when faced with the option of playing roulette, blackjack and other casino games online. That is to say, they might previous have gone to the betting shop, placed their bet and then headed home, ignoring the likes of the FOBTs in the corner. The same is not necessarily true of people betting online, however. The temptation to have a look at the games that were all open to be played in online casinos might have proven to be too much to resist for many, meaning that they were playing games they wouldn’t normally have done.

Is It Just About Disposable Income?

British pounds

Whilst there is often disagreement from some within the age bracket, the so-called Boomers generally have more disposable income than those in younger generations. Having not had to pay as much money in the likes of rent and mortgage when they were younger, older people are now in a position where they have more money that they can afford to spend frivolously than those aged a few decades younger than them. With this in mind, is it possible that the increase in older bettors is as much to do with their available cashflow?

Someone who used to go to the betting shop on a regular basis in order to place wagers is unlikely to stop doing that just because the betting shop has been closed. Instead, they will still have the money that they used to place on bets with their local bookies, but they can now spend it online instead. The fact that they can afford to do so and lose money regularly doesn’t necessarily mean that they are problem gamblers. Obviously anyone developing a problem should be encouraged to seek help, but the mere act of betting more doesn’t mean that they do have a problem.

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