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Home Gambling Industry UK prisoners still suffer from gambling disproportionately

UK prisoners still suffer from gambling disproportionately

3 min. read

Prisoner at a window.

The prison population in the United Kingdom has been suffering from one problem that has remained hidden for the plain eye, because of the nature of the penal system in the country. However, a new report by Russell Webster wants to shed light on the effect that problem gambling has on prisoners and the limited resources they have to cope with this issue. In fact, prisoners in the United Kingdom have the highest rate of problem gambling in the country.

The report took a sample of 282 volunteers all of whom were based in Category B men’s prisons. The group consisted of all sorts, with convicts and on-remand prisoners who have committed various offenses in their time. The first thing the report took a look at was the level of gambling participation among the prison population, basing it on the sample group.

Some 45% of all prisoners reported to have gambled while in prison. This is only slightly higher than the 43% adults of general population who participate in various gambling contests. However, 66% of all prisoners admitted to having gambled at a time in their lives, and prior to their incarceration. The number went even higher when the question was posed to just the people who gambled in prison – 92% of them also did gamble before they were incarcerated.

Prisoners seemed to be familiar with all types of gambling products, including slots, sports, racing, lottery, and online casinos. Once in prison, though, most gambling games that became popular with these people were card and dice games, due to limited access to entertainment.

The study raised concerns with the way inmates were dealing with their gambling habits in prison. Nearly 19% of all inmates would borrow money from others to continue gambling, pointing to a problem gambling behavior.

The study further spoke about some specific forms of gambling that had evolved out of prison life, such as "Fight Club," which could point to organized fights between inmates, which would be highly illegal, or betting on people’s behavior, as on how inmates would act after they had taken drugs.

The study is particularly enlightening and it sheds light on an unpalatable truth, to wit the fact that prisoners are suffering from problem gambling at a very high rates. Thankfully, organizations such as GamCare have been working to actively address the issue. Meanwhile, more research and resources would probably be necessary to address the problem more seriously.

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24 Nov 2022
3 min. read
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