PLAINRIDGE — On any given afternoon, the slot machines at Plainridge Park Casino are populated largely by older adults who make up a key market segment for the business.
Now the state Gaming Commission is funding a study to try to discover the impact gambling is having on the elderly in the towns surrounding the Plainville slots parlor.
The study will be conducted by the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Boston in conjunction with the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling and the state Council on Aging.
Caitlyn Coyle, research fellow at the institute’s Center for Social and Demographic Research, said the study will take about a year and is being funded with a $40,000 grant from the Gaming Commission.
She said it is considered a “seed” study that will lead to a much wider one.
For now, it will concentrate on 15 communities surrounding Plainridge, including North Attleboro, Wrentham, Norfolk, Foxboro, Mansfield and Norton.
The first step, she said, will be to question local Councils on Aging and other agencies that deal with the elderly to determine what issues they have noticed.
Those interviews will help form questions to go on a survey of elderly in the area, she said.
The researchers want to uncover what impact gambling is having on the elderly in a number of areas, not just financial, she said.
“We’re looking at this globally,” she said.
Plainridge’s impact was selected for study because it has been open since June 2015, whereas a resort casino in Springfield has been open for less than a year.
Marlene Warner of the Council on Compulsive Gambling said seniors often have the free time to visit casinos, but the study might determine if they are spending too much of their fixed income gambling.
Plainridge General Manager Lance George said the casino takes significant steps to prevent problem gambling.
“Responsible gaming is one of our top priorities and we have established a set of policies and guidelines modeled after the American Gaming Association’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming,” he said.
The code establishes minimum standards that address problem gambling, underage gambling, improper use of alcohol, responsible marketing and advertising, and the prevention of unattended minors.”