The Relationship of Problem Gambling to Criminal Behavior in a Sample of Canadian Male Federal Offenders

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Abstract

This article examines the prevalence of moderate and severe problem gambling in a sample of 254 incarcerated Canadian male federal offenders (completion rate of 39.0%). The prevalence of disordered gambling was measured using the PGSI, DSM-IV-TR, and SOGS that yielded estimates of 9.4%, 6.3%, and 13.0%, respectively. Severe problem gamblers were significantly more likely to have committed income producing offences, but were neither more nor less likely than other offenders to have committed violent offences. The majority of severe problem gamblers (65.2%) and a fifth of the moderate problem gamblers (20.0%) reported that their criminal activity was a result of their gambling (e.g., to pay off debts). Based on these findings there appears to be a need to offer problem gambling treatment services to offenders in order to help them break the cycle of gambling, debt and crime.

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