Patterns of Family and Intimate Partner Violence in Problem Gamblers

J Gambl Stud. 2019 Jun;35(2):465-484. doi: 10.1007/s10899-018-9768-9.


While the evidence about the statistical co-occurrence of family violence and problem gambling is growing, the mechanism by which the two behaviours are related is less clear. This study sought to clarify the dynamics of the problem behaviours, including the role of gender in victimisation and perpetration of violence in the family. Two-hundred-and-twelve treatment seeking problem gamblers (50.5% females) were recruited for interviews about past year FV and IPV experiences. The interviews included questions about the types of FV and IPV using the HITS tool (Sherin et al. in Fam Med Kans City 30:508-512, 1998). The questions addressed multiple family members, the temporal order of violence and gambling and the perceived associations between the two behaviours. The result show that well over half (60.8%; 95 CI = 54.1-67.2) of the participants reported some form of violence in the past 12 months, with no gender differences in relation to perpetration and victimisation. Bidirectional violence (43.9%; 95 CI = 37.4-50.6) was significantly more common than 'perpetration only' (11.3%; 95 CI = 7.7-16.3) or 'victimisation only' (5.7%; 95 CI = 3.3-9.6). Violence was mostly verbal, although considerable rates of physical violence also featured in the responses. 'Participants' own gambling preceded violence in a majority of the interviews but a small group of IPV victims reported that being a victim had led to their problematic gambling. These results can be used inform prevention, better treatment matching and capacity building in family violence and problem gambling services, where a significant focus should be on situational IPV.

Keywords: Bi-directional violence; Family violence; Intimate partner violence; Problem gambling; Situational violence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gambling / epidemiology
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Problem Behavior
  • Sex Factors