Mon, Oct 24, 2016 | updated 02:16 PM IST

Gamblers are more into violent behavior : Study

Updated: Sep 12, 2016 09:39 IST

Washington D.C [USA], Sept. 12 (ANI): A recent research showed that men, who gamble are more likely to act violently towards others, with the most addicted gamblers, most prone to serious violence.

It found that gambling in any capacity, may it be pathological, problem, or so-called casual gambling, is related to significantly increased risk of violence, including domestic abuse.

Researchers surveyed 3,025 men about whether they had ever engaged in violent behaviour, including if they had ever been in a physical fight, assaulted or deliberately hit anyone, if they had used a weapon, and whether the violence was perpetrated when they were drunk or on drugs.

The survey also asked if they had ever hit a child, suffered from mental illness, whether they took regular medication, or exhibited impulsive behaviour.

The participants, who came from a range of socio-economic backgrounds and varied in age, were also asked about whether they gambled.

Eighty percent of participants admitted to taking part in some sort of gambling activity during their lifetime.

The researchers found a statistically significant link between gambling and violent behaviour, which became starker the more severe the gambling habit.

Just over half of pathological gamblers, 45 percent of problem gamblers, and 28 percent of casual gamblers reported some form of physical fight in the past five years.

In contrast, among the non-gamblers, only 19 percent reported being involved in violence.

Additionally, gambling was associated with an increased likelihood of weapons being used in acts of violence, with more than a quarter in the pathological category, 18 percent of problem gamblers and seven percent of non-problem gamblers reporting weapon usage.

Just over 15 percent of non-problem gamblers also admitted to having had a fight while intoxicated, which rose to more than a quarter in problem gamblers and almost a third in pathological gamblers.

The study also found that pathological and problem gamblers are more likely to have hit a child with almost 10 percent of pathological gamblers and just over 6 percent of problem gamblers admitting to such behaviour.

Those with likely pathological gambling problems also had increased odds of committing violent behaviour against a partner.

The results remained statistically significant even after adjusting the data to account for related characteristics such as mental illness or impulsive behaviour.

However, it was not clear whether gambling and the propensity towards violence have a common cause, or whether one increases risk of the other.

Researchers said the findings could help improve prevention and treatment programmes.

Lead author Amanda Roberts said, "Understanding the relationship between gambling and violence will help treatment services tailor intervention and treatment programmes for their clients."

"Our study examined a nationally representative sample of males and confirmed strong links between problematic gambling and violent behaviours, and also showed links with non-problem gambling. The results reinforce the view that public health efforts to prevent problem gambling should include education around violence, and that there could be value in integrating those efforts with alcohol and drug abuse programmes," she added.

"Given the strong associations identified, there is some justification for establishing a standard battery of screens for gambling, alcohol, drug and violence issues in a range of mental health and addictions settings," she said.

The study participants were men ranging in age from 18 to 64 years and came from a range of socio-economic backgrounds across England, Wales and Scotland.

The level of their gambling problem was determined by scoring a series of 20 questions answered by participants

People with a score of zero to two were classed as non-problem gamblers, those with scores of three and four were defined as problem gamblers, and probable pathological gamblers were those who scored five or more.

Application of a less stringent measurement standard identified 57 additional metabolites differentially abundant between the two groups of participants.

The authors suggested that given the very short duration of the trial, the serum profile changes were likely driven by the vegetarian diet component of Panchakarma.

The findings were published in the Scientific Reports. (ANI)