Use of a short gambling screen with an arrestee population: A feasibility study

Abstract

Problem gamblers have been disproportionally found among prisoners. This study sought to (1) demonstrate if a short screening instrument (Lie/Bet Questionnaire) can expeditiously identify problem gamblers during the initial Criminal Justice System stage, and (2) examine the relationships between problem gambling and criminality among arrestees. Surveys were conducted with 959 inmates (from 1,445 approached) at a Central Booking Facility in Tampa, Florida. Among those surveyed, 81% were male with average age of 32.9. Ethnic distribution of those surveyed was Blacks (35.8%), Whites (43.3%), Hispanics (19.3%), Others (2.4%). Sixty-eight percent had completed trade school or less, 20% had some college and 12% were college graduates. Among those reporting gambling the year prior, 32.7% were problem gamblers according to the Lie/Bet. If including those who declined, the percent drops to a considerable 17.4% of the entire sample. Problem gamblers were significantly more likely to be charged with a drug or status crime, as well as being charged with a felony. Feasibility of screening inmates in an intake facility using the Lie/Bet Questionnaire was found. Furthermore, we found a need for gambling screening. Gambling courts should be considered.

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