Penal reform charity The Howard League is set to undertake further research, examining the ‘links between criminal activity and problem gambling’.
Having sanctioned an academic literature review conducted by Sarah Ramanauskas, Senior Partner at Gambling Integrity, Howard League revealed that’s there is ‘a dearth of knowledge’ related to the subject matter.
In its review of academic reports, the charity found that only 50 peer-reviewed papers have been published in the past 25-years evaluating links between crime and gambling addiction.
The Howard League stated that millions of victims and sufferers of problem gambling consequences have been let down by the lack of relevant academic research studying vital dynamics.
In response, the Howard League has launched a Commission to conduct research chaired by Lord Peter Goldsmith QC, tasked with analysing ‘three strands’.
The Commission’s first project will look at the prevalence of gambling-related crime; the second will consider the lived experience of people caught up in the system; and the third will explore sentenced gambling addicts’ awareness of the issue.
Lord Goldsmith QC said: “From people getting into debt and defrauding family members or employers, to domestic violence and other crimes relating to gambling-related stress, we know anecdotally that police stations, courts and prisons see significant numbers of cases – but only a handful of academic studies have looked at this across the globe.
“The criminal justice system itself does very little work to capture the scale of the challenge and even less in terms of offering interventions like those we see for alcohol or drug problems. This has to change and our Commission can play a key role in improving the response to disordered gambling and crime.”
Providing an overview on academic studies published to date, the Howard League underlined that there was a growing understanding that ‘gambling addiction is a behavioural disorder’.
However, the charity highlighted a penal disconnect related to crime, as problem gambling is not considered a ‘mitigating factor in sentencing’ – in the way that other mental health issues such as drug and alcohol addiction are.
Furthermore, the charity said that problem gambling addicts are offered no treatment support during prison sentencing. Studies to date have shown that penal measures are not a cost-effective way to avoid further harm to individuals or society once the sentence is completed.
The Howard League ended its statement by citing that legal justice and penal systems would be better supported by deeper research on ‘gambling addiction treatment and on the rate of recidivism’ (criminal reoffenses).