Crime and gambling disorders: A systematic review [subscription access article]

Adolphe, A., Khatib, L., van Golde, C. et al. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies. doi:

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. Article details and references


Can a brief telephone intervention for problem gambling help to reduce co-existing depression? A three-year prospective study in New Zealand [subscription access article]

Ranta, J., Bellringer, M., Garrett, N. et al. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies. Retrieved from

Abstract: Problematic gambling and depression commonly co-exist, with limited research indicating that depression and/or psychological distress appear to reduce with brief interventions for problem gambling. The present study was designed to examine the effect, over 36 months, of a brief problem gambling intervention on depression in a population of people seeking help for gambling issues. One-hundred and thirty-one participants were recruited from adult (18+ years) gambler callers to the New Zealand national gambling helpline. They received a manualised version of the helpline’s brief intervention, and were assessed at baseline, 12 and 36 months. Overall, problem gambling severity reduced from a score of 17 (using the Problem Gambling Severity Index) at baseline to a score of 7.5 at 36 months. The percentage of participants with depression reduced from 74% at baseline to 41% at 36 months. For both problem gambling and depression, the greatest reduction was in the first 12 months. Multiple logistic regression analyses at baseline showed an association between problem gambling and depression. Repeated measures logistic regression indicated that reduced problem gambling severity reduced depression and that there was no independent time effect taking place (i.e. the decreased depression was not due to natural recovery). Thus a single brief telephone intervention for problem gambling substantially reduced the prevalence of depression. This has clinical and public health implications with a benefit being that people with depression and co-existing gambling problems may not necessarily need additional treatment for depression if they receive treatment for their gambling issues. View article details, references and access options

Gambling disorder in male violent offenders in the prison system: psychiatric and substance-related comorbidity [open access article]

Widinghoff, C., Berge, J., Wallinius, M. et al. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies. doi:

Gambling disorder is an addiction that can cause major suffering, and some populations seem to be more vulnerable than others. Offender populations have a remarkably high prevalence of gambling problems and they are also over-represented in a number of diagnoses related to gambling disorder, like substance use disorders and antisocial personality disorder. Yet, there are few studies investigating gambling disorder prevalence and related psychiatric comorbidity in this group. This study aims to investigate the prevalence of, and association between, gambling disorder and other psychiatric diagnoses in a sample of young, male violent offenders. Two hundred and sixty-four male offenders, all serving sentences for violent crimes (recruited between 2010 and 2012) participated in this study and went through comprehensive psychiatric evaluation, including assessment for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition criteria. Sixteen percent of the participants met criteria for gambling disorder. Antisocial personality disorder, cannabis, cocaine and anabolic steroids abuse were significantly more common among participants with gambling disorder. The gambling disorder group also showed significantly lower educational attainment. Cocaine abuse and failure to graduate elementary and middle school in expected time were independently associated with gambling disorder in a regression analysis. This study confirms the previously described high prevalence of gambling disorder in offenders. The psychiatric comorbidity was high and the problems had started early, with lower educational attainment in the gambling disorder group. The findings stress the importance of increased awareness of gambling problems among convicted offenders and of gambling research on young people with delinquent behavior. There is a need of more research to investigate this further, in order to develop preventive strategies and treatment. Access full article

The Relationship Between Exclusions from Gambling Arcades and Accessibility: Evidence from a Newly Introduced Exclusion Program in Hesse, Germany [subscription access article]

Strohäker, T. & Becker, T. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies:

Abstract: An exclusion system for gambling arcades has been introduced recently in the state of Hesse. The aim of this paper is to identify significant predictors that are useful in explaining the variation of exclusions between different Hessian communities. Next to socio-demographic factors, we control for three different accessibility variables in two models: the number of electronic gambling machines (EGMs) in model I, and the number of locations and density of gambling machines at a location in model II. We disentangle the association between EGMs and exclusions of model I into a location and a clustering effect. Considering the socio-demographic variables, the explanatory power of our cross-sectional models is rather low. Only the age group of the 30–39 years old and those who are not in a partnership (in model I) yield significant results. As self-exclusion systems reduce availability for the group of vulnerable players, this analysis provides evidence for the assumption that the two groups—pathological gamblers and vulnerable players—seem to have little overlap concerning sociodemographic characteristics. The accessibility variables, on the other hand, turn out to be significantly associated with the number of exclusions. All three of them are statistically significant and their association is positive. The results of model II show that the location effect is more pronounced then the clustering effect of EGMs, i.e. the effect of an additional single-licensed arcade on the number of exclusions is stronger than the increase in the number of license at one location. Article details and access options

Are Video Games a Gateway to Gambling? A Longitudinal Study Based on a Representative Norwegian Sample [open access article]

Molde, H., Holmøy, B., Merkesdal, A.G. et al. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies:

Abstract: The scope and variety of video games and monetary gambling opportunities are expanding rapidly. In many ways, these forms of entertainment are converging on digital and online video games and gambling sites. However, little is known about the relationship between video gaming and gambling. The present study explored the possibility of a directional relationship between measures of problem gaming and problem gambling, while also controlling for the influence of sex and age. In contrast to most previous investigations which are based on cross-sectional designs and non-representative samples, the present study utilized a longitudinal design conducted over 2 years (2013, 2015) and comprising 4601 participants (males 47.2%, age range 16–74) drawn from a random sample from the general population. Video gaming and gambling were assessed using the Gaming Addiction Scale for Adolescents and the Canadian Problem Gambling Index, respectively. Using an autoregressive cross-lagged structural equation model, we found a positive relationship between scores on problematic gaming and later scores on problematic gambling, whereas we found no evidence of the reverse relationship. Hence, video gaming problems appear to be a gateway behavior to problematic gambling behavior. In future research, one should continue to monitor the possible reciprocal behavioral influences between gambling and video gaming. Access full article

Excessive Gambling and Online Gambling Communities [subscription article]

Sirola, A., Kaakinen, M. & Oksanen, A. (2018). Excessive gambling and online gambling communities. Journal of Gambling Studies.

Abstract: The Internet provides an accessible context for online gambling and gambling-related online communities, such as discussion forums for gamblers. These communities may be particularly attractive to young gamblers who are active Internet users. The aim of this study was to examine the use of gambling-related online communities and their relevance to excessive gambling among 15–25-year-old Finnish Internet users (N = 1200). Excessive gambling was assessed by using the South Oaks Gambling Screen. Respondents were asked in a survey about their use of various kinds of gambling-related online communities, and sociodemographic and behavioral factors were adjusted. The results of the study revealed that over half (54.33%) of respondents who had visited gambling-related online communities were either at-risk gamblers or probable pathological gamblers. Discussion in these communities was mainly based on sharing gambling tips and experiences, and very few respondents said that they related to gambling problems and recovery. In three different regression models, visiting gambling-related online communities was a significant predictor for excessive gambling (with 95% confidence level) even after adjusting confounding factors. The association of visiting such sites was even stronger among probable pathological gamblers than among at-risk gamblers. Health professionals working with young people should be aware of the role of online communities in terms of development and persistence of excessive gambling. Monitoring the use of online gambling communities as well as utilizing recovery-oriented support both offline and online would be important in preventing further problems. Gambling platforms should also include warnings about excessive gambling and provide links to helpful sources. Access and article sources

Psychological Vulnerability and Problem Gambling: The Mediational Role of Cognitive Distortions

By Lévesque, D., Sévigny, S., Giroux, I., & Jacques, C.

Abstract: Despite numerous studies demonstrating the influence of cognitive distortions on gambling problem severity, empirical data regarding the role of psychological vulnerability on the latter is limited. Hence, this study assesses the mediating effect of cognitive distortions between psychological vulnerability (personality and mood), and gambling problem severity. It also verifies whether the relationships between these variables differs according to the preferred gambling activity. The sample is composed of 272 male gamblers [191 poker players; 81 video lottery terminal (VLT) players] aged between 18 and 82 years (M = 35.2). Bootstrap analysis results revealed that cognitive distortions mediate the effect of narcissism on gambling problem severity for both groups. The level of depression for VLT players significantly predicted gambling problem severity, both directly and indirectly via the mediating effect of cognitive distortions. Mediation analyses also indicated that narcissism had an indirect impact on problem gambling through cognitive distortions for both groups. These findings suggest that certain vulnerabilities related to personality and mood may influence cognitive distortion intensity and gambling problem severity. In addition, psychological vulnerabilities could differ based on preferred gambling activity. These results may be useful for prevention policies, identifying high risk gamblers and planning psychological interventions.

Lévesque, D., Sévigny, S., Giroux, I., & Jacques, C. (2018). Psychological Vulnerability and Problem Gambling: The Mediational Role of Cognitive Distortions. Journal of Gambling Studies.