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When It's No Longer A Game: Pathological Gambling in the United States

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Dated: April 2001 Pages: 14-18
Date Published
April 2001
5 pages
Publication Series
This article discusses the origin and nature of pathological gambling and its links to crime when gamblers engage in forms of destructive behavior.
With the wider availability of gambling in the past two decades, the introduction of new forms of gambling, the rise in the number of people who play games of chance, and the increasing amount of money wagered concerns have been raised about gambling’s social and economic effects. A comprehensive study on pathological gambling mandated by Congress in 1996 found gaps in what was known and recommended additional research. This article focused on the concern of “pathological gambling” (the inability to resist the impulse to gamble). This identified psychological/mental health disorder is seen as having a number of harmful consequences for the gambler and his/her family. These can lead to destructive behavior that can lead to criminal behavior involving the justice system. Pathological gambling can co-occur with such problems as substance abuse. The link to crime is often a by-product of the financial losses incurred from gambling. Evidence suggests that a sizable proportion of pathological gamblers have criminal charges pending as a result of illegal activity to fund their habit. This article suggests that the effects of pathological gambling could be added to long-term studies of health or mental health. Pathological gambling was identified as a problem significant enough to warrant more comprehensive and scientific research.

Date Published: April 1, 2001