Gambling and clients of ACT corrections: Final report

Abstract

In the ACT, as in the Australian population, the majority of people regularly participate in gambling activities. The purchase of lottery and instant scratch tickets, and use of club gaming machines comprise the highest participation in gambling in the ACT. While many people gamble without experiencing any adverse consequences, for some people, gambling creates difficulty in their lives. Prior to this study being conducted the prevalence of problem gambling among clients of ACT Corrections was unknown. This project seeks to address this knowledge gap. The project is guided by four terms of reference. The specified terms are to provide: 1. a literature review on gambling in correctional populations 2 . a discussion of the relationship between gambling and criminal activity 3. results of a survey of clients of ACT Corrections, and 4 . an overview of counselling services for problem gamblers in correctional populations. The current study comprised a survey based on the lifetime and 12 month versions of the gambling screen, the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). In addition, the survey also contained questions relating to gambling and offending, gambling while a client of ACT Corrections, questions relating to drug and alcohol use, and help-seeking behaviour. A significant conclusion of this study is that gambling problems among offenders need to be identified in the correctional system, as most will not identify themselves as having a problem and most will not seek help on their own. ACT Corrections may wish to consider routine screening of offenders at the pre-sentencing stage.

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