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For Senior Citizens: - Why Gambling On The Internet is Good For You
 
By George "The Engineer" Epstein

Advances in medical technology permit us to live longer, more active lives. In 1970, there were just 36,000 people who reached the age of 100. By the year 2000, that number had increased to 75,000. Projections indicate that twenty years from now, there will be about 300,000 Centenarians, and within 50 years, the number will easily exceed one million! The U.S. Census Bureau has predicted that 3 million members of the so-called "baby-boom" generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) will live to 100 years of age!

Quality of life has likewise improved, and senior citizens are living more active, productive lives. Comedian Jerry Lewis, at age 74, recently signed a 20-year contract to perform five times a year at a hotel in Las Vegas. George Burns performed until he was almost 100 years old. Former heavyweight boxing champion Max Schmelling, (he beat Joe Louis in 1936), recently celebrated his 96th birthday and continues to lead an active life. The fabulous Palm Springs Follies -- singing, dancing, and comedy --draws sellout crowds day after day, featuring great performers who range in age from their mid 50s to 85.

Gambling and Senior Citizens

More and more senior citizens are availing themselves of the opportunity to enjoy the amenities offered in what many regard as the most exciting and vibrant city in the world; Las Vegas. Gambling is the core activity and senior citizens are very much involved as evidenced by the growing numbers of retirees, both as residents and visitors.

Senior Citizen centers bring busloads of seniors to Las Vegas and Atlantic City daily. More than 2000 buses go to Atlantic City every week and the majority of the passengers are senior citizens. The National Gaming Institute estimates that 65 percent of the revenue at Atlantic City casinos is contributed by senior citizens. During a recent visit to Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California, I observed that about half the players were those in their sixties and beyond.

Gambling has become part of the American way of life. Lotteries and bingo games are more popular than ever throughout the country. (A recent survey in states that do not have lotteries shows that two-thirds of the people would favor a state lottery.) Indian casinos keep popping up; there are more than 109 of these casinos throughout the states and senior citizens are an important part of the revenue.

The bottom line: Senior citizens have more time on their hands and are better able to enjoy the excitement and challenge offered by gambling as the opportunities for gaming increase.

Gambling Can Be Beneficial for Seniors

My recently published book, "The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!" (Subtitled: The Four Basic Rules and Strategies for Winning at the Game of Poker) -- published by T/C Press -- contains a chapter titled, "For Senior Citizens: Playing Poker for Fun, $, and Good Health." It explains how playing poker can help to overcome the process of both physical and mental deterioration as we grow older. Of course, the same can be said for other forms of gambling.

We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
-- George Bernard Shaw

In discussing retirement in the book, I offer the following words of wisdom based on personal experience and observation:

Never just retire from the work force.
It is important to be able to retire into something.

A retiree should have one or more activities, a hobby, a series of projects, travel plans -- something to keep him or her mentally and physically active after leaving the day-to-day employment market. Your retirement activities should also provide some mental challenge to stimulate your mind. Gambling, especially participating in games of skill, is an ideal way to provide that challenge.

What I discovered. . . was that people who are active and engaged in things they like, were the ones who stayed healthy and lived longer and had a better quality of life.
-- Norma Barzman, author and screenwriter

Dr. William T. Greenough, Professor of Psychology and Chairman of the Program in Neurosciences & Behavioral Biology at the University of Illinois states: "Mental exercise is a very good thing for the health of the brain. Older people who remain active…. feel a continuing sense of purpose, and are motivated to depend on themselves and their own resources." Live an active rather than a passive life-style, he urges. You can do so by playing poker and other mentally challenging gambling games, rather than spending "mindless hours staring at the television." (Did you know that the average American watches 30 to 50 hours of television per week?)

Gambling provides the mental challenge and stimulation that can lead to a healthier mind, watching television does not. The human brain is a marvelous organ but as we grow older it is subject to the deterioration of age much as other organs in our bodies, but the process can be halted or even reversed.

Mental exercises... can help older people sustain, and in some instances, even improve their mental abilities.
-- Prof. W. Warner Schaie, Penn. State Univ.

Dr. Martin A. Samuels, Chief of the Department of Neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, has stated: "The brain enjoys a learning challenge and responds to it with increased activity that can carry over into other mental tasks. So if you keep on learning, your brain will, too." The mental activity spurs brain cells to "sprout" new connections called synapses. Thus, the mental challenges presented during the gaming, can be a key to slowing, or even perhaps preventing, the decline of intellectual capacity that once was considered inevitable during our aging process.

There is yet another, rather subtle, benefit that senior citizens can derive from playing poker and other forms of gambling when they play to win. I have observed that my ability to exert self-control and self-discipline has improved as I focused on this psychological skill essential to winning. That's an unexpected perquisite that has benefited my daily life away from the poker tables.

What About Physical Health?

Most gambling games are rather sedentary activities. You are seated at a table, or a computer if you are using the Internet, hour after hour. How can you possibly get any physical exercise? How can we say that gambling can be good for our physical health? Let me just say that this "sedentary" activity can provide you with the opportunity for more healthful exercise than you would normally get in other circumstances. And the answer is isometrics!

Isometrics is a system of exercises that involve the straining, by contraction or stretching, of muscles without significant bodily movements. In isometric exercises, one muscle or part of the body is pitted against another, or against an immovable surface in a strong but motionless pressing, pushing, pulling, stretching, bending, or contraction. An example is pushing the palms of your hands against each other. Another rather simple exercise is to grab the bottom of the seat of your chair and pull upward. There are a wide variety of isometric exercises you can do while seated at the table, without disturbing others. These exercises not only improve muscle tone and circulation but also greatly reduce the tension of the game.

So What Does This Have to Do With the Internet?

We have shown that gambling can be good for your mental and physical health. This holds true wherever you gamble, whether in a casino, in a friend's home, or over the Internet. So what are the unique benefits of gambling over the Internet for senior citizens?

For senior citizens, there are many reasons for turning to the Internet to gamble. Today, using the Internet, seniors can enjoy various games without having to drive long miles to reach a casino. They don't have to endure the hassle of airport parking and lugging luggage to a Las Vegas or Atlantic City hotel. Indeed, the dollars saved on the cost of airfare and hotel rooms alone, can be a good stake for gambling on the Internet.

Internet gambling is especially attractive to handicapped senior citizens. For those who require a wheelchair, or suffer other disabilities, there is a certain "luxury" and comfort in being able to participate in your own home or retirement facility. Everything you need is close at hand and it's easy to leave the game when you need to tend to your personal needs.

The noise of the casino can be disturbing to many senior citizens. (Sometimes I think some casinos have an ulterior motive in making the casino as noisy as possible). Instead, in the comfort of your own home, you can select your own choice of background music from a stereo or radio. Want to take a break, have a snack? No problem; it's easy in your own home. These are amenities that are particularly appealing to us senior citizens.

While the size and numbers of gambling casinos have been growing throughout the world, on-line casinos have been literally exploding! All you need is a computer with access to the World Wide Web, and you can tune in to a variety of on-line casinos.

On-line casinos offer virtually every form of gambling; betting on sporting events, blackjack, slots, video poker, and roulette. There are Internet card rooms that specialize in poker; Texas hold'em, 7-card stud (both hi and hi-lo), and Omaha (hi and hi-lo). Limits range from as low as $0.25-$0.50 to as high as $20-$40. On many of the on-line sites you can practice for free, and participate in discussions in a chat room for poker players. On-line gambling has become so popular in fact that the state of Nevada has added Internet gambling to its list of forbidden vehicles for gaming. Prior to 1997, Nevada's statute -- intended to protect its casino industry -- was limited to outlawing wagers placed via telephone, television, cable, wire, and fax. Now Internet gambling has been added.

But a Word of Caution

While gambling on the Internet has many attractive benefits and advantages for senior citizens, there is need for caution. We all recognize that luck is a factor in any gambling game. No matter how skilled a gambler you may be, there will be times when luck just goes against you. In the long run, however, it will even out. But, because there will be periods when the only luck you experience is bad, it is important that you never, ever, invest money in Internet gambling (or any other source of gaming) that you cannot afford to lose. This may seem axiomatic but it is the one thing that even cautious players tend to ignore. Runs of good and bad luck are a gaming fact of life. The skilled player recognizes this and adjusts his play accordingly and more often than not will end up the majority of sessions as a winner. If you are going to play by all means acquire the skills by reading my book or that of another recognized professional before you take the plunge.

With that admonition, I invite senior citizens who want to gamble, to explore the opportunities now available on the Internet. Match your skills against those of others, and enjoy!

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