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Study reveals that gamblers more prone to violent behavior


A recent study has shown that men who gamble are more likely to engage in violent behavior towards others; indeed, the more the gamblers are addicted to gambling, the higher possibility for him to act violently towards others.


The research produced in the journal Addiction shows that any form of gambling can be associated with domestic abuse and the risk of violence.


The research survey involved 3,025 men who were questioned about whether they had ever participated in violent behavior, including physical fights, assault, or hitting someone deliberately; or if they had used a weapon, and whether violent behavior took place while they were drunk or on drugs. The survey also involved questions such as had they ever hit a child, struggled from mental illness; whether they regularly took medication, or engaged in impulsive behavior.


The interviewees came from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds across the UK and from different age ranges. When they were questioned about whether they gambled, the result manifested that 80 per cent of the participants had taken part in some sort of gambling activity during their lifetime.


The statistics revealed a significant relation between violent behavior and gambling in which more than half of pathological gamblers, 45 per cent are problem gamblers, and 28 per cent of ‘casual gamblers’ had participated in some form of physical fight at some point over the past five years.


In contrast, only 19 per cent of the non-gamblers reported being involved in violent behaviors of any kind.


Moreover, gambling is highly correlated with the increased likelihood of weapon usage in performing violent behaviors, with more than a quarter of pathological gamblers, 18 per cent of problematic, and 7 per cent of non-problem gamblers reported weapon usage, and over 15 per cent of non-problem gamblers also confessed to having had a fight while intoxicated with alcohol which rose to over a quarter of problematic gamblers and almost a third of pathological gamblers.


The research also discovered that pathological and problematic gamblers have an increased likelihood of hitting a child, with a figure of almost 10 per cent for pathological gamblers, and over 6 per cent of problematic gamblers admitting to such behaviour. Those problematic pathological gamblers also had a higher possibility of performing violent behavior towards their partner.


The findings remained statistically relevant even after altering the data for correlated characteristics such as mental illness or impulsive behavior. However, it was revealed to be ambiguous on the point of whether gambling and the tendency to perform violence behavior have a mutual cause, or whether one increases risk of the other.


Scholars said the results of studies could help prevent and improve treatment programs.


The research was led by psychologists from the University of Lincoln, partnered with schalors from University College Cork, Queen Mary University of London, University of East London, Imperial College London, and AUT University in New Zealand.

Dr Amanda Roberts, the lead author from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology commented “Understanding the relationship between gambling and violence will help treatment services tailor intervention and treatment programmes for their clients. 

“Our study examined a nationally representative sample of males and confirmed strong links between problematic gambling and violent behaviours, and also showed links with non-problem gambling. The results reinforce the view that public health efforts to prevent problem gambling should include education around violence, and that there could be value in integrating those efforts with alcohol and drug abuse programmes. 

“Given the strong associations identified, there is some justification for establishing a standard battery of screens for gambling, alcohol, drug and violence issues in a range of mental health and addictions settings.”


The research participants were males of ages from 18 to 64 years with a range of socio-economic backgrounds from across England, Wales, and Scotland.


The level of their gambling issue was determined by the scores from 20 questions which were answered by the participants (people with a score of 0-2 were classified as non-problem gamblers while those with score 3 and 4 were classified as problem gamblers, and probable pathological gamblers scored 5 or more).


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