The WAGER, Vol. 1(15) – Illegal behavior among pathological gamblers


One of the potential consequences of pathological gambling is financial distress, which can lead gamblers to attempt to recoup financial losses by means of illegal behavior. A study investigating the influence of pathological gambling on insurance problems and illegal behavior surveyed a sample (n = 241) of predominantly male (98%) pathological gamblers who attended Gamblers Anonymous meetings. These respondents had a median income of $27,850. Although this sample was not compared with a control group, the findings reveal that 47% of male pathological gamblers were involved in at least one form of insurance-related crime. The most common methods of insurance fraud and theft were making false claims after auto accidents and stealing something for which they knew an insurance company had to pay. The authors of this 1987 study estimated that each pathological gambler on average costs the insurance industry $65,468 for fraudulent claims; the annual loss to the insurance industry due to fraud by pathological gamblers is estimated to be $1.32 billion dollars.

Source: Adapted from Lesieur, H.R., & Puig, K. (1987). Insurance problems and pathological gambling. Journal of Gambling Behavior, 3, 123-136.

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For more information contact the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, 190 High Street, Suite 6, Boston, MA 02110.

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