Research Links Problem Gambling and Crime

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Recent research conducted by the University of Buffalo (UB) has drawn parallels between the characteristics of people associated with problem gambling and their propensity to commit criminal acts.

University of Buffalo’s sociology department recently carried out studies to better grasp the root cause of problem gambling and how it impacts individuals.   The research identified a clear link between certain traits of criminally minded individuals and their association with problem gambling.

The research project, which has now entered a critical phase, is being led by Cristopher Denisson, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Buffalo College of Arts.  Denson has been assisted on the project by Gregory Rocheleau from the Ball State University and Jessica Finkeldey from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

The Nature of the UB Research

The aim of the research has been to better understand the nature of a problem gambler’s thought patterns.  The study showed that problem gamblers and criminals have a lot in common with the way they approach things.  Professor Denisson pointed out that an individual who is predisposed to becoming a problem gambler has a higher chance to commit criminal activities.    

Up to this point, problem gambling has been viewed as just one of the triggers of criminality (e.g. stealing money to feed the addiction or money laundering).  The new research has taken the two problematic behaviours to a whole new level. 

New Perspective to Understanding Problem Gambling and Crime

Gambling addicts usually struggle with focusing on anything else other than their next wagering fix.  They further associate preoccupation with the essential thought of gambling.  Ultimately, problem gambling takes over an individual’s life and impacts their every decision negatively.

According to research, a gambler cannot limit their gambling within a reasonable range of time, and this activity becomes a form of reality escapism for all their problems.  Some of the points where problem gambling and crime converge are substance abuse, association with delinquent groups and socioeconomic status. 

According to Dennisson’s research, the overlapping variables between the two problem behaviours make up a confounding bias.  By being able to identify the common variables exhibited by the two groups, the researchers are in a position to optimise individual treatment plans for both behaviours.

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