Homeless Ten Times More Likely to be Gambling Addicts
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have found that homeless people are ten times more likely to be problem gamblers than the UK population as a whole. The study is one of the largest ever to be undertaken in the UK and it has concluded that homeless services should offer clients more support in tackling problem gambling.The study examined 450 people at homeless hostels and shelters in the London Borough of Westminster. The lead author Steve Sharman said, “Many issues face the homeless population, including drug and alcohol use. In terms of addiction research, most focus has been on drugs, alcohol and smoking, but the gambling field is relatively small in comparison. And while it is possible to spot physiological indicators of drug and alcohol addiction, problem gambling is much harder to identify.”
The study found that problem gambling affects 11.6% of homeless people compared to just 0.7% of the population as a whole.
Sharman explained that he believes the results are useful “because some homeless services don’t ask about gambling in their initial assessments. By showing that this population is vulnerable to gambling addiction, the study should encourage homeless services to include questions about gambling in their assessments.”
Sharman said that he will now go on to examine whether gambling is a cause or a consequence of homelessness.