The Centre for Innovative Justice has been commissioned by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation to conduct research into the intersection of problem gambling and the criminal justice system.
National and international evidence suggests a much higher prevalence in rates of problem gambling within offender populations, and a multiple pathways into offending related to gambling disorder.
Despite this, legal system mechanisms fail to gather information related to gambling activity in any systemic or considered way and also lack consistent referral pathways. Awareness amongst judicial officers and legal practitioners, meanwhile, is relatively underdeveloped, and recognition of gambling disorder as an addiction within clinical contexts is not matched by acceptance of gambling disorder as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
The aim of the research is to contribute to evidence which supports greater understanding in the legal context. The proposed impact of this work will be to prompt the inclusion of relevant data gathering mechanisms in legal aid, private practice and court settings; as well as to establish consistent and appropriate referral pathways.
The CIJ will be presenting preliminary findings at a conference in October and release its final recommendations before the end of 2016.