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Report argues operators should compensate gambling-related crime victims

| By Nosa Omoigui
A briefing from the Howard League's Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling has said that victims of gambling crime should receive compensation from gambling companies.
Briefing says gambling crime victims should be compensated by operators

The Commission, initially set up by the Howard League for Penal Reform, contains 16 commissioners and is chaired by Lord Goldsmith QC.

In the last two years it has been investigating the links between problem gambling and crime, the impact this link has on society, and what steps could be taken to reduce gambling-related crime.

The briefing has found that offending relating to problem isn’t being dealt with in an appropriate manner despite problem gambling being recognised as a mental health disorder.

It was noted that problem gamblers tend to turn to financial crime in order to maintain their addiction. The report also found that fines or confiscation orders implemented in such a situation disproportionately affects families of problem gamblers and destabilises their rehabilitation, as problem gamblers may gamble more to cover the impact of these orders.

As a result, is said that “stolen money can be recouped in other ways with victims of the crime receiving compensation from gambling companies following investigations by the Gambling
Commission for social responsibility and money laundering failures.”

In terms of recommendations, the briefing suggested that the Ministry of Justice review what improvements can be made to training and raising awareness among practitioners.

Individuals should also be assessed in the criminal justice system for problem gambling behaviours linked to their offending.

Specialist local services for problem gamblers should also be identified, and people should be guided towards them.

It was also suggested that the use Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, which is used in cases reating to financial crime resultant of problem gambling, should be reviewed.

Lord Goldsmith QC said: “Crime related to problem gambling represents unplumbed depths of which the criminal justice system seems largely unaware. Although there has been a growing understanding that gambling addiction is a behavioural disorder, and one which can lead to crime, problem gambling is not considered to be a mitigating factor in sentencing in the way mental health problems or drug and alcohol addiction are.

“Pockets of good practice do exist, particularly where the police first make contact with people who may have committed offences linked to problem gambling, but far more work needs to be done across the system to tackle this issue and reduce crime.”

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