Crime and Gambling Disorders: A Systematic Review

  • A. AdolpheEmail author
  • L. Khatib
  • C. van Golde
  • S. M. Gainsbury
  • A. Blaszczynski
Review Paper


It is generally believed that there is an instrumental relationship between problem gambling and crime such that some gamblers resort to illegal activity to recoup financial shortfalls resulting from their gambling. However, a clear understanding of the risk factors for the commission of crimes beyond financial stresses is absent in the literature. The aim of this review was to identify the nature of crimes perpetrated by problem gamblers and the factors that contribute to the commission of gambling-related crimes. A systematic review adhering to guidelines outlined in the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement searching eight databases—PsycINFO, Westlaw AU, Heinonline, Legal Source via Ebsco, Legaltrac via Gale, PubMed, Scopus, and Medline—was conducted. A total of 21 papers were included after screening and application of exclusion criteria. All studies examined reported crimes committed by problem gamblers, with a validated assessment tool measuring problem gambling. The review provided evidence that gambling-related crime typically consists of non-violent, income-generating offences. However, it also revealed that problem gamblers may commit violent crimes at a higher than expected rate, which may have been concealed by deliberate and unintentional under-reporting of gambling-related crimes. The causal relationship between problem gambling and violent crime, however, remains uncertain. Based on this review, suggestions are offered for the evaluation of perpetrators of gambling-related crime on a case-by-case basis, to better understand the relationship between gambling and crime and facilitate more frequent application of therapeutic jurisprudence in future.


Gambling and crime Gambling-related offences Gambling disorder Problem gambling and criminal offences 



This work was supported by funding provided by the School of Psychology, Science Faculty, the University of Sydney. This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award [DE1060100459] awarded to Dr. Sally Gainsbury.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Alex Blaszczynski has received direct and indirect funding over the last 3 years for research projects, consultancy, honoraria, royalties for published books, costs covering travel expenses to attend conferences and government meetings including from La Loterie Romande (Switzerland), Club NSW (Australia), Comelot (UK), La Française des Jeux (France), Loto-Québec (Québec, Canada), National Lottery (Belgium), Aristocrat Leisure Industries, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Australian Media and Communication Authority, Responsible Gambling Trust/GambleAware, Manitoba Gambling Research Program, NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming, & Racing, Gambling Research Australia, National Association for Gambling Studies, USA National Council on Problem Gambling, Le Comité d’organisation Congrès international sur les troubles addictifs, Japan Society for the Behavioral Addiction, and funds from Taylor & Francis for acting as Editor-in-Chief of International Gambling Studies. Sally Gainsbury has received direct and indirect funding over the last 3 years for research projects, consultancy, honoraria, costs covering travel expenses to attend conferences and meetings including from from the Australian Research Council, Australian Media and Communication Authority, Commonwealth Bank Australia, University of Sydney, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, National Association for Gambling Studies, Gambling Research Australia, Echo/Star Entertainment, UK Responsible Gambling Trust/Gamble Aware, KPMG Australia, KPMG Tokyo, Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia, Health Outcomes International, ORC International, Communio, Manitoba Gambling Research Program, GP Consulting, Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation, Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Alberta Gambling Research Institute, Nordic Association for Information on Gambling Addiction, Responsible Gambling Council, National Council on Problem Gambling International Advisory Board (Singapore), Minter Ellison, Victorian Community Clubs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Berkeley UniversityBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Science Faculty, Brain and Mind Centre, School of PsychologyThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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