At Risk Groups

While anyone can develop a problem with gambling, there are some groups that are more at-risk than others. Some of these at-risk groups are young adults aged 18-24, senior citizens, veterans, those with a history of drug/alcohol abuse, those with a family history of problem gambling, and athletes.


18-24-groupThis is an age of impulsiveness and risk-taking. Generally in the “at-risk” category for many other addictive behaviors, 18-24 year olds are susceptible to problem gambling for a number or reasons.

  • They may be out on their own for the first time
  • They want to display independence and maturity
  • They may have a new or higher paying job with more money to spend
  •  They may feel the need to make a mark or name for themselves

Senior Citizens

This population, generally considered 65 years of age and up, is experiencing a plethora of life transitions and it is easy to mask these changes with a high-excitement, and seemingly safe and social activity like gambling. Some of the many reasons why seniors gamble are:

  • Loneliness due to the loss of friends and loved ones
  • Boredom from lack of other activities
  • Dealing with the end of a fulfilling career
  • Loss of identity
  • Masking/escaping a physical or mental condition
  • Gambling can be considered a safe and social activity
  • May have a potentially disposable income
  •  Can be targeted by casinos with free busses, meals, etc…


For similar reasons as senior citizens, Veterans may engage in risky gambling behavior during and after their military careers.

  • Loss of friends and loved ones
  • Loss of identity
  • Mask/escape physical or mental condition
  • Mask/escape emotions or anger
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Fill voids

History of Abuse

A family history, no matter the addiction, can have a major impact on the development of an addictive personality and addictive behaviors. It is important to know any addiction has the potential to lead to any other. Like with alcohol and other drugs, problem gambling is associated with many factors such as:

  • A family history of any addictive behavior
  • Curiosity
  • Early onset
  • Searching for thrill and excitement
  • High co-occurrence with other substances
  • If gambling is considered a safe or legal alternative to other substances
  • If gambling is used to replace other addictive behaviors


athletesOne at-risk population that is normally in the headlines for problem gambling is the Professional Athlete. Because these individuals can become so high-profile in our society, if a problem develops, it is national news. It is not difficult to conceptualize how and why an athlete (or former athlete, coach, manager etc…) would become wrapped up in the world of high-stakes gambling.

  • To “make the game more interesting”
  • They have a wealth of knowledge about the game they play
  • Could be considered “easy money”
  • Could feel pressure from other teammates, coaches or sponsors that gamble