Pathological Gambling, Drug Abuse, and Criminal Behavior

Richard C. McCorkle, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The spread of legalized gambling over the past decade in the United States has sparked considerable concern, debate, and research. Much has focused on what many contend is an inevitable product of the movement: an increased incidence of pathological gambling disorders and a corresponding increase in social disorder, most notably crime. This presentation summarizes findings from research examining the extent, nature, and consequences of pathological gambling disorders among arrestee populations. A particular focus is given to the interaction of gambling disorders and drug abuse on criminal behavior (both level and type of offending). Data for the study comes from a gambling addendum administered to 2,596 adult male and female arrestees in conjunction with the federally-sponsored ADAM (Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring) programs in Las Vegas, Nevada and Des Moines, Iowa. The addendum included a DSM-IV based pathological gambling screen, measures of the type and frequency of gambling behavior in the past 12 months, substance abuse immediately preceding and during gambling, and motivations for criminal behaviors.

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Updated 05/20/2006