Crime and Gambling Disorders: A Systematic Review
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.
KeywordsGambling 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.
- Abbott, M. W., & Volberg, R. A. (1999). Gambling and problem gambling in the community: An international overview and critique. The New Zealand Gaming Survey. Report No. 1. Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs.Google Scholar
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., Text Revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.Google Scholar
- Delfabbro, P. H. (2010). Exploring the myths around gambling. Paper presented at Gambling Awareness Week, Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne.Google Scholar
- Gorsane, M. A., Reynaud, M., Vénisse, J., Legauffre, C., Valleur, M., Magalon, D., et al. (2017). Gambling disorder-related illegal acts: Regression model of associated factors. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 6(1), 64–73. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.6.2017.003.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Granero, R., Penelo, E., Stinchfield, R., Fernández-Aranda, F., Aymamí, N., Gómez-Peña, M., et al. (2014). Contribution of illegal acts to pathological gambling diagnosis: DSM-5 implications. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 33(1), 41–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/10550887.2014.882730.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Laursen, B., Plauborg, R., Ekholm, O., Larsen, C. V. L., & Juel, K. (2016). Problem gambling associated with violent and criminal behaviour: A Danish population-based survey and register study. Journal of Gambling Studies, 32, 25–34. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-015-9536-z.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ledgerwood, D. M., Weinstock, J., Morasco, B. J., & Petry, N. M. (2007). Clinical features and treatment prognosis of pathological gamblers with and without recent gambling-related illegal behavior. The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 35(3), 294–301. Retrieved from http://jaapl.org/content/35/3/294.long.
- Lesieur, H. R. (1984). The chase: Career of the compulsive gambler. Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Publishing Co.Google Scholar
- Lloyd, C. D., Chadwick, N., & Serin, R. C. (2014). Associations between gambling, substance misuse and recidivism among Canadian offenders: A multifaceted exploration of poor impulse control traits and behaviours. International Gambling Studies, 14(2), 279–300. https://doi.org/10.1080/14459795.2014.913301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Monash University Centre for Criminology & Criminal Justice. (2000). The impact of gaming and crime statistics. Report prepared for the Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority: Melbourne.Google Scholar
- Pastwa-Wojciechowska, B. (2011). The relationship of pathological gambling to criminality behavior in a sample of Polish male offenders. Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research, 17(11), 669–675. https://doi.org/10.12659/MSM.882054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Perrone, S., Jansons, D., & Morrison, L. (2013). Problem gambling and the criminal justice system. Melbourne, Australia: Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.Google Scholar
- Productivity Commission. (1999). Australia’s gambling industries, Summary Report No. 10. Canberra: AusInfo.Google Scholar
- Productivity Commission. (2010). Gambling. Productivity commission inquiry report. Volume 1. Report no. 50. Canberra: Productivity Commission.Google Scholar
- Rudd, C., & Thomas, S. D. M. (2016). The prevalence, mental health and criminal characteristics of potential problem gamblers in a substance using treatment seeking population. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 14(5), 700–714. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-015-9604-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sakurai, Y., & Smith, R. G. (2003). Gambling as a motivation for the commission of financial crime: Report No. 256. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.Google Scholar
- Stinchfield, R., McCready, J., Turner, N. E., Jimenez-Murcia, S., Petry, N. M., Grant, J., et al. (2015). Reliability, validity, and classification accuracy of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for gambling disorder and comparison to DSM-IV. Journal of Gambling Studies, 32(3), 905–922. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-015-9573-7.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Turner, N. E., Preston, D. L., McAvoy, S., & Gillam, L. (2013). Problem gambling inside and out: The assessment of community and institutional problem gambling in the Canadian correctional system. Journal of Gambling Studies, 29(3), 435–451. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-012-9321-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Williams, R. J., Volberg, R. A., & Stevens, R. M. G. (2012). The population prevalence of problem gambling: Methodological influences, standardized rates, jurisdictional differences, and worldwide trends. Guelph: Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre.Google Scholar