My father is 81 years old. He lives independently (still drives) and lives alone since my mother passed away nearly seven years ago. I was raised in a traditional household where my father worked and made all the household financial decisions; my mother was the homemaker. I have two sisters. We (the children) all moved away from the small town where my father still lives. Today, my sisters live approximately four hours away by car and I live in another state.
We discovered both my parents had a bit of a gambling problem over 20 years ago when a casino opened up in a neighboring town. It was my mother who actively sought professional help to address their gambling problem. My father never admitted to having a problem. It was my mother who kept my father away from the casino. However, now that she's gone, there is no real support for my father.
Due to COVID, my father has been deterred from going to the casino. However, he discovered another form of gambling -- scratch offs! Recently, I was given access to his checking account and discovered he made 10 trips in one day to a local convenience store and spent a total of $81 in scratch offs. In one month, he spent $769 on scratch offs! My father has a very limited income (it primarily consists of social security and a rental property that generates an additional $350 per month). He owns his home and vehicle; he really just has utilities and groceries as monthly expenses. Due to my father's gambling problem, my sisters and I have been reluctant to send him cash. We prefer to assist him by buying groceries and covering the cost for minor household repairs.
Unfortunately, my father is in denial of having any kind of gambling problem. Growing up, he was the one we all went to for financial advice. This is a difficult role reversal for me. My fear is that once I confront him about his scratch off purchases, he'll not only be upset but he'll become more secretive about his purchases. In all likelihood, he'll open another checking account.
I would like some advice on how to address this situation with my father. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.