It may not be as prestigious as the land-based casinos that you will find in Macau or Las Vegas, but in the Land of the Rising Sun, senior homes are rapidly becoming a new frontier for the world of gaming these days.
For instance, at a senior day care center located in Yokohama, elderly individuals play baccarat and mahjong while the pings and chimes of pachinko and slot machines are incessantly heard in the room.
Chairman of Japan Elderly Care Service Kaoru Mori, who runs the "ala Las Vegas-type facility" said, "We believe this casino stimulates the brain and helps to prevent or suppress the development of dementia".
It is really no surprise that elderly people love to gamble whenever given the opportunity. As a matter of fact, you would always see people sporting gray hairs everywhere and playing at slot machines, mahjong tables, and enjoying their day with some baccarat games.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Research has shown that activities such as gambling can be a very effective way in delaying or preventing the occurrence of brain disorders that is usually prevalent in the elderly population. The Suwa Tokyo University of Science conducted a study and it showed that when they gamble, elderly subjects "demonstrated an uptick in frontal and parietal lobe activity, and improvements in recognition".
Cons: While it is true that it can help delay or prevent an elderly person to suffer any brain-related disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease, many people highly believe that elderly gamers are at high risk of becoming an addict.
A lobby group representing retirees in the US named AARP has warned that "seniors are the fastest growing segment of gambling addicts in the U.S."
According to a government research conducted in 2014, around 5% of the population is gambling, which equals to 5.36 million people.
The Yokohama senior center residents state that gambling keeps their minds active and sharp. Additionally, they say that they love the camaraderie they form with fellow seniors, and with that, they get to steer away from feelings of depression and anxiety.
One senior claimed, "I've lived alone for decades, many days I don't speak a word, I feel very depressed, but here we play games and talk." Another senior at the center also said, "I use my brain playing mahjong and I use my fingers, I believe it helps stimulate my mind."
Gambling Banned in Some Japanese Areas
There are strict rules imposed on betting in certain Japanese areas, which means that there is no real money used in the Yokohama center. Seniors who gamble there compete for prizes or use fake bills instead.
In some municipalities in Japan, gambling is absolutely banned. On September 2015, an ordinance was passed by the Kobe Municipal Assembly, banning daycare centers that from holding games that influence the passion for gambling or utilize pretend-currency such as casino chips.
When real money is involved, it is expected that seniors who gamble tend to be very vulnerable, and their gambling activity will result in financial difficulties. Nevertheless, it looks like more and more Japanese daycare centers will continue to provide gaming activities as one of their ways to stimulate the minds of elderly people as well as keep them happy and mentally fit during their old age. As a matter of fact, most seniors do not care if they play without using any real money, because they mainly play for fun and companionship.
source: http://www.wdsu.com/national/the-japanese-seniors-gambling-to-stay-sharp/37126580 and http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/24/asia/japan-senior-gambling/