Gambling Harms and Community Justice in Glasgow

Organised by Community Justice Glasgow


At any given time, as many as 200,000 adults and 15,000 children in Scotland are at risk of or experiencing harm related to gambling. For every person with a gambling problem, on average 6 other people in their life will be negatively affected. There are established links between gambling and crime. Gambling can be a criminal activity (illegal bookmaking, money laundering) but more often crimes are committed to fund gambling, pay-off debts, or hide the extent of their gambling (fraud, theft). Perpetrated against family members or friends, these offences may be under-reported. Problem gambling has been linked other offending, including domestic and financial abuse, and child neglect.

Individuals with a history of offending are more vulnerable to gambling harms. In Scotland, 12% of incarcerated men and women are problem gamblers (vs. 0.7% general population). Over their lifetime, problem gamblers are 4.4 times more likely to serve a prison sentence than members of the general population. Within prisons, gambling subcultures exist; a 2020 survey of offenders in English prisons reported a fifth had spent money or bet something they owned gambling over the last year whilst in prison.

Problem gambling is not routinely screened for in criminal justice settings in Scotland; there are emerging examples of screening at the point of liaison and diversion in England. Gambling disorder (a behavioural addiction in DSM-V) is not considered a mitigating factor at sentencing in the UK in the way that drug or alcohol dependence; there are international examples of this approach. Despite some evidence that treatment of gambling addiction reduces recidivism, access to this in criminal justice settings is limited in the UK.


1. Welcome and Setting the Scene

Tom Jackson, Head of Community Justice, Glasgow City Council

2. Overview of gambling harms in community justice settings

Dr Michelle Gillies, Consultant Public Health Medicine, Scottish Public Health Network

3. Voice of Lived Experience

4. A Local Discussion – Facilitated Discussion on Local Perspectives

5. Round-Up, Next Steps and Glasgow Gambling Harms Summit