Tokyo seniors gamble time away in Vegas-style care centre

What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there, and senior citizens in Japan are profiting from it.

An elderly daycare centre in the Japanese capital of Tokyo, Day Service Las Vegas, has adopted a winning formula to keep its residents entertained with casino-style games, such as poker and pachinko slot machines.

"This place is the best. They have games. It's great," Yusai Urazumi, 92, said as he played poker with friends on Thursday.

Urazami begins his mornings with stretching exercises and a health check before rolling up to the cards table.

Gambling is illegal in Japan and no actual money changes hands, but the players say they participate for the sheer pleasure.

"Even if you don't understand the game, it's fun to play," said Katsuko Kikuchi, 86, as she took a break from a round of mahjong at an automated table.

Kaoru Mori, president and director of ACA Next, which runs Day Service Las Vegas, said a visit to a Las Vegas casino hotel during a research trip to study seniors' care facilities in the United States inspired the programme.

"A lot of elderly were playing so cheerfully and that made me think, 'I wish I could bring that type of joy back to Japan,'" Mori said.

Demand for senior care institutions is growing in Japan, where almost 27 per cent of the population was older than 65 in 2015, the government says.

There are 15 senior Day Service Las Vegas centres in Japan, two of them in Tokyo, the company website showed.