The Relationship Between Gambling and Homelessness: A Commentary on Sharman et al. (2014)
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The relationship between problem gambling and homelessness is a little studied area in the gambling studies field. A recent study by Sharman et al. (J Gambl Stud, doi: 10.1007/s10899-014-9444-7, 2014) is the first quantitative study in Great Britain on this interesting and important topic. In this context, the study is to be commended and provides an empirical benchmark on which other studies can build. The study reported a problem gambling prevalence rate of 11.6 % and is significantly higher than the problem gambling rate of the general population in Great Britain (which is <1 %). However, given the political sensitivity surrounding the expansion of bookmakers in the UK, the study needs further contextualization otherwise the findings of such studies may be used by anti-gambling lobby groups to serve their own political agendas. While it is good that such an area has been empirically investigated in Great Britain, this paper briefly (1) places the issue of problem gambling among the homeless into the wider context of problems among the homeless more generally (particularly in relation to mental health problems and other addictive behaviors), (2) highlights some of the methodological problems and weaknesses of the study, and (3) notes a number of factual errors made in the paper.
KeywordsProblem gambling Homelessness Vulnerable groups Betting shops Problem gambling severity index
Conflict of interest
The author has appeared as an expert witness both for and against the opening of licensed bookmakers in the London area of Great Britain. Each case he has been involved in as taken on the basis of evidence in the local vicinity as to whether the opening of a betting shop would negatively impact on the local clientele.
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