Pathological Gambling and Criminality

Jorge Oscar Folino; Patricia Estela Abait


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2009;22(5):477-481. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Purpose of Review: To review research results on the relationship between pathological gambling and criminality, published in 2007 and 2008, in English and in Spanish.
Recent Findings: An important association between pathological gambling and criminality was confirmed in populations of anonymous gamblers, helpline callers and substance abusers. Helplines provide a timely service to gamblers who have not reached the maximum stages in the development of a pathological gambling pattern. Pathological gambling is associated with violence in couples and dysfunctional families. Inversely, violence is also an antecedent promoting vulnerability toward pathological gambling. Impulsiveness shows diverse relationships with pathological gambling and violence as well. A pathological gambler's involvement in crime is exceptionally considered without responsibility by justice, but it may be an indicator of the disorder severity and the need for special therapeutic tactics.
Summary: While reviewing the present study, research work was published that contributed to a better understanding of the association between pathological gambling and criminality and went further into their complex relationship and the formulation of explanatory models related to impulsiveness.


Historically, gamblers who continued gambling in spite of its adverse consequences found their way into the criminal justice system and were diagnosed by moralizing thinkers as 'evil'; today, the criminal justice ramifications remain the same, but a proper diagnosis has evolved.[1] Research on the relationship between gambling and crime has also advanced and has revealed the underlying complexity.

Crime is considered to be the human social and economic cost associated with excessive gambling by those who oppose the expansion of gambling exploitation, whereas others support the idea that some forms of gambling exploitation may provide social benefits.[2]

The purpose of the present review is to provide a summary of recent research results on the relationship between pathological gambling and crime.


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