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One in Three Detroit Seniors Visit Casinos

15 October 2003

DETROIT, Michigan – As reported by the Detroit News: "While two-thirds of Detroit's senior citizens never or rarely visit casinos, about 10 percent could be at risk of developing a gambling problem, according to a random survey of 1,410 older city residents by Wayne State University.

"The findings -- the first to gauge the casino habits of senior Detroiters -- are part of a wider study on the health, housing and transportation needs and habits of residents 60 or older.

"The casino industry, however, disputes the study's methodology, saying the survey wasn't thorough enough to determine if any seniors are problem gamblers.

"Some critics have said casinos take advantage of elderly people with lots of time and disposable income on their hands.

"…Aging gamblers are a core constituency for casinos. A recent Roper ASW marketing survey of 2,000 Americans found that 57 percent of bettors are older than 50, and the casinos do their best to accommodate them.

"It's not unusual for Greektown Casino to host almost two dozen buses a day, and many riders are elderly. The cash and food incentives that those gamblers receive are often on par with the cost of the trip. Also, Detroit casinos are typically well-stocked with wheelchairs and scooters for those who have difficulty getting around. MGM Grand has five times more handicapped spots than are required by law. Detroit casino bathrooms also have disposal boxes for diabetics' needles, and attendants have been known to keep a stash of Depends on hand.

"…The Wayne State study also asked a two-part question often used by counselors to ferret out whether someone doesn't know when to quit. One question asked whether they ever felt the need to bet more money, and another asked whether they ever lied to anyone important to them about how much they gambled.

"About 140 Detroit seniors -- nearly 10 percent of those polled -- answered yes to one of the two questions. Only 27 of those answered yes to both questions.

"…The $150,000 study was funded by the city of Detroit, which receives about $100 million in tax revenues from Detroit's three casinos…"

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