Gambling problems, traumatic life events and the perpetration of violence

Abstract

There have been suggestions that violence and victimisation are associated with gambling problems. However, despite the global expansion of the gambling industry, there have been very few studies investigating this phenomenon in the general population. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between gambling problems and violence (as a victim and perpetrator), including IPV (Intimate partner violence) and traumatic life events in a nationally representative sample of men. Regression analysis revealed that problem/pathological gambling was associated with increased odds of the perpetration of violence, using a weapon, hitting a child and being injured in a violent incident. Moreover, pathological gambling was associated with increased odds of the perpetration of IPV and fighting whilst intoxicated. A comorbid alcohol dependence diagnosis further increased the likelihood of IPV perpetration. The findings also indicated that there was a significant relationship between problem gambling and victimisation including direct and indirect IPV, and other childhood and adulthood traumatic episodes (e.g. assault, injury, homelessness and relationship breakdown). The links between violence and gambling are not fully established, but it is possible that the strain and tension associated with problem gambling (exacerbated by a traumatic history and alcohol use in some cases) can lead to antagonism that is directed towards others, particularly those in immediate surroundings including spouses, partners and children. The current findings highlight the need for problem gambling treatment services to undertake routine screening for alcohol, violence, IPV and traumatic life events and to tailor treatment for clients who present with such issues.

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