Retirees Flocking To California’s Indian Casinos
It would appear, contrary to popular belief, that there is some life in them yet, as countless seniors and retirees flock to many of California’s Indian owned casinos for a bit of Vegasesque excitement.
The allure of Vegas, it would seem, is lost on California’s older generation, with seniors and retirees over the age of 60 preferring to get their kicks in the smaller, yet infinitely friendlier casinos run by the many California Indian Tribes, than make their way to the bright lights of Sin City.
For many of the young-at-heart gamblers, the trips to the many casinos are often a welcome respite from the rigors or boredom of everyday life. This could include anything from having to take care of grandchildren while their upwardly mobile children are at work, or it could be as simple as a dash of excitement and a day or two away from the monotony of their retirement home to interact with people of a similar age that share their interests.
The California tribal casinos, a 7 billion dollar growth industry, have been quick to realize the potential of the market. They have also become quick to attune themselves to their new patrons and a casino bus, filled with pensioners, which have been picked at meeting spots all over Los Angeles and San Francisco is a common site in the casinos drop-off and valets parking.
One such resort, the Valley View Casino Resort near San Diego, shows a bus schedule that includes many pickup points all over LA in areas such as Alhambra, West Covina and Orange County. Other casinos, including the likes of the Pechanga in Temecula, the San Antonio in San Bernardino or even the Cache Creek in Scaramento, all have busses that drive the retirees to the casinos.
“Some of them in wheelchairs, some in canes could hardly walk, but they all looked happy” said Lydia, a visiting businesswoman from San Lorenzo Village in Manila, who couldn’t believe so many of the patrons at the casino were retirees.
Las Vegas has been trying to draw the old age crowds but hasn’t had as much success as the Indian Casinos who were quick to offer pensioners special perks that include the likes of free hotel rooms, money to play with, free lobster dinners and a variety of other gifts ranging from wristwatches to pots and pans.
One gambler, Thelma from Orange County, on a weekend out with her parents were amazed how fascinated her parents were “it’s the thrill of the sounds of the machines and the colorful video displays” she said. “Of course, there’s the excitement of winning something for the next casino trip” she said laughing, “my sister and I take turns to drive them to their favorite Indian ‘playgrounds’. We do enjoy playing with them and at the same time bringing them food at their favorite stations”.
But, as much fun as the seniors are having, there are a few that not all that enthusiastic about the regular casino trips. Carol Kimbrough and Susan Araneta of CDK consulting recently conducted a survey amongst the retirees and agreed that the biggest problem faced by many was the isolation and need for social interaction which may lead to gambling activities and sometimes, gambling addiction.
Seeing as most retirees are on a fixed income, their study concluded that should they gamble away more than they can afford, there may be dire consequences such as the inability to buy food, pay for housing or even medication that may be needed.
Kimbrough, a California State Fullerton Professor, did have some helpful advice for any seniors that would help them avoid any unfortunate situations. She said: “Set a budget and stick with it, for example, bring only enough cash and leave your credit cards at home”.
However dangerous situations like that could be, they are preventable if the proper care is given to the retirees. Kimbrough’s report also mentioned that “some of the games in the casino are good for the memory of the seniors doing arithmetic operations and logic , so some health practitioners encourage their patients to go to casinos as long as its handled properly and conducted responsibly.
A retiree from Panorama City, commenting about senior gambling and trips to the casino, said: “This is an alternative to senior-sitting parents”. He often sees children and friends driving their elders to the casinos, leaving them to enjoy themselves for a few hours in the casino before picking them up and taking them home.
Frank, a caregiver in an LA rehabilitation center said “it’s amazing how some of my patients who barely have energy to walk daily, suddenly straighten up as soon as they see the lights of those machines. I would say if that’s their therapy for mental and physical stability, let them enjoy it”.
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