Does Problem Gambling Increase Crime?

We evaluate the connection between problem gambling and the incidence of crime outcomes using five years of survey panel data collected on 4,121 subjects for the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre. Problem gambling is statistically significantly associated with elevated rates of crime. This connection persists after controlling for extensive demographic and education characteristics, measures of alcohol use, drug use, plus mental health. In this study, the nearest casino is 105 kilometers—over sixty-four miles—away from the population studied. We estimate that being a problem gambler increases one’s likelihood of committing crime by 4.3 to 7.6 percentage points.

a. Department of Economics, Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University, One Bear Place \#98003, Waco, Texas 76798; Tel. (254) 710-1903.

b. Department of Economics, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Brooks Hall, 310 Herty Drive, Athens, GA 30602-6269; Tel. (706) 542-3624.

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