Crime and Gambling Disorders: A Systematic Review

Research paper by A. Adolphe, L. Khatib, C. van Golde, S. M. Gainsbury, A. Blaszczynski

Indexed on: 24 Jul '18Published on: 23 Jul '18Published in: Journal of Gambling Studies


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.