Casino bus tours linked to risk of problem gambling for older adults


Casino bus tours linked to risk of problem gambling for older adults

TORONTO, July 20, 2017 – ​Almost one in three older adults (30.2 per cent) who use casino tour buses have a moderate to severe gambling problem according to a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) study just published in the journal Addiction. The research suggests the need for gambling regulators to take a closer look at how casino bus tours are marketed to adults 55 years of age and older.

“This is the first time a study has looked at the relationship between tour bus usage and gambling problems,” says lead author Dr. Mark van der Maas. “This gap in research was troubling considering how popular tour buses are with older adults and how casino tour companies specifically target their marketing to seniors in retirement homes who may be vulnerable to financial hardships.”

Researchers interviewed over 2,000 people who went to one of seven slots venues in Central and Southwestern Ontario. While the overall rate of severe gambling problems among older adults is relatively rare – one in 500 – that number jumps to almost one in ten for those who go to casinos on bus tours.

“The connection between greater access to gambling and problem gambling has been well-established,” says co-author Dr. Nigel Turner. “These data suggest the need for better regulation of casino marketing and advertising campaigns aimed at older adults. Problem gambling prevention information efforts should be directed towards this population.”

Dr. van der Maas suggests people with loved ones who go to casinos should ask them about their gambling.

“Older adults may be experiencing a variety of issues such as retirement, health problems, isolation, grief and loss and taking these bus tours may seem appealing to them,” he says. “If you have a loved one who is an older adult that goes to the casino regularly try going to the casino with them and see how they spend their day. 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.”

This research was funded by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre, now known as Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO).

For broadcast quality video clips of Dr. van der Maas available for download, check out this link.


The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please follow @CAMHnews and @CAMHResearch on Twitter.

The Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario (PGIO) at CAMH brings treatment professionals and leading researchers together with experts in communicating and sharing knowledge. Our focus is on collaboratively developing, modelling and sharing evidence-informed solutions to gambling- and technology-related problems within Ontario and around the world.

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Sean O’Malley
Media Relations, CAMH
416 535-8501 ext. 36663


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