Problem gambling among a group of male prisoners: Lifetime prevalence and association with incarceration

Date01 March 2015
Published date01 March 2015
Subject MatterArticles
Australian & New Zealand
Journal of Criminology
2015, Vol. 48(1) 73–81
!The Author(s) 2014
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DOI: 10.1177/0004865814538037
Problem gambling among a
group of male prisoners:
Lifetime prevalence and
association with incarceration
Ben Riley and Jane Oakes
Department of Health Sciences, Flinders University, South Australia
Studies have shown an association between criminal offending and problem gambling; how-
ever, research concerning problem gambling among prisoners is limited. Although reported
prevalence rates are high among the offending population, different screening tools have been
used making them difficult to compare. The purpose of this study was to investigate the
lifetime prevalence of both level 2 and 3 problem gambling among a group of incarcerated
male offenders in South Australia and to examine the relationship between gambling and
current term of imprisonment. The Early Intervention Gambling Health Test (EIGHT Screen)
was completed by 105 prisoners. Fifty-five (52%) indicated a lifetime prevalence of problem
gambling. One-fifth of all respondents reported their current term of imprisonment was
related to gambling. This paper aims to draw attention to the prevalence of problem gambling
among Australian prisoners. Implications are discussed with regards to problem gambling,
health promotion and rehabilitation, and the importance of screening for gambling-related
problems among this high-risk population.
Criminal, gambling, offenders, prisoners, problem gambling
Problem gambling is associated with signif‌icant adverse personal and social impacts.
Australia’s Gambling Industry’s Productivity Commission Report (2010) estimates the
number of problem gamblers in Australia in a 12-month period lies around 115,000, with
a further 280,000 at moderate risk. For every problem, gamblers 5 to 10 others such as
partners and children are also adversely af‌fected (Productivity Commission, 2010). These
f‌igures suggest up to 4 million Australians experience the emotional, social and f‌inancial
stress caused by problem gambling. The report states the number of people who have
Corresponding author:
Ben Riley, Department of Health Sciences, Flinders University,Flinders Medical Centre, Block E2, The Flats, Flinders
Drive, Bedford Park SA 5042, Adelaide, South Australia.

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