Old age constitutes a vulnerable stage for developing gambling-related problems. The aims of the study were to identify patterns of gambling habits in elderly participants from the general population, and to assess socio-demographic and clinical variables related to the severity of the gambling behaviours. The sample included N = 361 participants aged in the 50–90 years range. A broad assessment included socio-demographic variables, gambling profile and psychopathological state. The percentage of participants who reported an absence of gambling activities was 35.5 per cent, while 46.0 per cent reported only non-strategic gambling, 2.2 per cent only strategic gambling and 16.3 per cent both non-strategic plus strategic gambling. Gambling form with highest prevalence was lotteries (60.4%), followed by pools (13.9%) and bingo (11.9%). The prevalence of gambling disorder was 1.4 per cent, and 8.0 per cent of participants were at a problematic gambling level. Onset of gambling activities was younger for men, and male participants also reached a higher mean for the bets per gambling-episode and the number of total gambling activities. Risk factors for gambling severity in the sample were not being born in Spain and a higher number of cumulative lifetime life events, and gambling severity was associated with a higher prevalence of tobacco and alcohol abuse and with worse psychopathological state. Results are particularly useful for the development of reliable screening tools and for the design of effective prevention programmes.