Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 69–76 | Cite as

Gambling Among Prison Inmates: Patterns and Implications

  • Alan McEvoy
  • Nicole Spirgen
Original Paper


There is an absence of research on gambling among prison inmates during their incarceration. Little is known about how prisoners organize gambling activities or the potential risks they face from gambling. Similarly, no empirical attention has been given to how correctional institutions respond to inmate gambling. This study employed interviews with 55 male prisoners and self-administered surveys with 159 correctional officers and staff, at two medium security prisons in Ohio. Data were gathered on prevalence and patterns of inmate gambling, perceived hazards of gambling, and perceived institutional responses to prisoner gambling. Findings suggest that inmate gambling is common and constitutes an important feature of the underground economy of prisons, yet little is done to deter or prevent this activity. Suggestions are made for more effective institutional responses.


Inmate gambling Prisoner gambling Prison culture 


  1. Abbott, M. W., McKenna, B. G., & Giles, L. C. (2000). Gambling and problem gambling among recently sentenced male prisoners in four New Zealand prisons. Wellington, New Zealand: The Department of Internal Affairs.Google Scholar
  2. Crockford, D. N., & el-Guebaly, N. (1998). Psychiatric comorbidity in pathological gambling: A critical review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 43–50.Google Scholar
  3. Hausman, J., Muskegon Chronicle. Inmate fighting at Muskegon prison results in several injuries. September 22, 2010.Google Scholar
  4. Meyer, G., & Stadler, M. A. (1999). Criminal behavior associated with pathological gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 13, 29–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. National Gambling Impact Study Commission. (1999). National Gambling Impact Study – Final Report. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  6. Nixon, G., Leigh, G., & Nowatszki, N. (2006). Impacting attitudes toward gambling: A prison gambling awareness and prevention program. Journal of Gambling Issues, 17, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Williams, D. J. (2008). Offender gambling in prisons and jails: Is it hidden leisure experience? The Correctional Psychologist, 40(3), 7–10.Google Scholar
  8. Williams, D. J. (2009). New research on prisoner gambling: Correctional considerations and implications for re-entry. Exclusive article written for Prison Legal News, 20(10).Google Scholar
  9. Williams, D. J., & Hinton, M. L. (2006). Leisure experience, prison culture, or victimization? Sex offenders report on prison gambling. Victims and Offenders, 1, 175–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Williams, D. J., & Walker, G. J. (2009). Does offender gambling on the inside continue on the outside? Insights from correctional professionals on gambling and re-entry. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 48, 402–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Williams, R. J., Royston, J., & Hagen, B. F. (2005). Gambling and problem gambling within forensic populations: A review of the literature. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 32, 665–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Social WorkNorthern Michigan UniversityMarquetteUSA
  2. 2.The New Teacher ProjectBrooklynUSA

Personalised recommendations