Gambling participation and social support among older adults: A longitudinal community study

Joni Vander Bilt, Hiroko H. Dodge, Rajesh Pandav, Howard J. Shaffer, Mary Ganguli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The purpose of this preliminary study was to examine associations between leaving home to engage in bingo or gambling activity and indices of physical and mental health and social support among a representative community cohort of 1016 elderly people. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data gathered from a prospective epidemiological study in a rural, low socio-economic status, area of Pennsylvania was employed. The cohort had a mean age of 78.8 (SD = 5.1) (range 71-97) and participated in three consecutive biennial "waves" of data collection. Nearly half (47.7) of the cohort reported gambling. To predict gambling, the independent variables included age, sex, education, employment, social support, depressive symptoms, self-rated health, alcohol use, cigarette use, and cognitive functioning. In cross-sectional, univariate analyses, gambling was associated with younger age, sex (male), fewer years of education, greater social support, lower depression scores, better self-rated health, alcohol use in the past year, and higher cognitive functioning. In a cross-sectional multiple regression model, younger age, greater social support, and alcohol use in the past year remain strongly and independently associated with gambling activity. Longitudinally, age, sex, social support, alcohol use, and gambling are predictive of future gambling activity. The results revealed that gambling may offer a forum of social support to older adults who are often isolated as they age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-389
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Gambling Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • epidemiology
  • gambling
  • prospective study
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)


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