Gambling-related crime suspects in Finland: Experiences of using police record data as research material

Abstract

Gambling-related crime includes various types of offences, from internationally sprawling match-fixing scandals to problem gambling-related embezzlements and petty thefts. As both gambling and crime are complex phenomena, understanding the relationship between the two requires using several different methodological approaches. The official records cast light only on a small segment of all crime, as many incidents remain unreported to the police. However, the cases documented by the police provide unique opportunities to examine the processes of gambling-related criminal activity.

The presentation will address the procedures of finding gambling-related police reports from the Finnish National Police Information System and describe the results on gambling-related crime suspects. The findings suggest that gambling is one of various other variables that have an effect on criminal activity. In most cases, the relationship between gambling and crime is indirect. The suspected perpetrators of problem gambling-related crimes refer to severe financial difficulties as a motivation for the crime, but also to a wider loss of life control which excessive gambling is only one part of.

The presentation will give an overview on the connection between gambling and criminal activity from the perspective of police reports. At the same time it will highlight some methodological issues that are involved in studying police records.

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