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Want To Make a Bet? Gambling and Crime in Australasia

NCJ Number
Rebekah Doley
Date Published
27 pages
This paper examines the link between legal gambling and crime in Australia and New Zealand.
The first part of the paper begins with a description of legal gambling behavior in the Australian and New Zealand populations. The prevalence and expenditure associated with gambling activities in these two countries is considered, and some of the reasons why people gamble are identified. The problem or pathological gambler is profiled, and a brief account is given of the social and economic difficulties commonly experienced by such individuals. The second part of the paper focuses on the link between legal gambling and crime. Information is presented on the prevalence and nature of crimes committed by gamblers; the sequence of events that may characterize gamblers' offending is considered. The discussion addresses whether there is a causal link between gambling and crime. The social costs of such offending for the community, family members, and friends of gamblers are also addressed, together with the financial costs to the criminal justice system. The potential implications for police of increased gambling behavior among the population is examined. The paper concludes that there are clearly a number of harmful effects associated with problem gambling; these pertain to the gambler's mental health, relationships, employment, and finances. Problem gamblers have also acknowledged their involvement in criminal offending as one of the consequences of their gambling behavior. Available evidence on prevalence rates of offending by problem gamblers, combined with information on their offending patterns, suggests a causal link between excessive gambling behavior and criminal activity. The nature and frequency of offending is apparently directly related to the extent and duration of involvement in gambling activities. As technological advances and more liberal regulations on gambling evolve, gambling is likely to become more accessible to a wider range of people, thereby increasing the prevalence of gambling in the general population. This suggests that police must use intelligence-led strategies and allocate greater resources in countering illegal gambling and gambling-related criminal activity. 2 tables and 15 references