The case for mitigation in court proceedings for gambling disorder related financially based crimes

Gaskell, M., 2024. The case for mitigation in court proceedings for gambling disorder related financially based crimes. DPsych, Nottingham Trent University.

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Purpose: When presenting with gambling related financially based crimes those accused are vulnerable within the criminal justice system as the courts tend not to recognise or accept gambling disorder as an acceptable defence. Moreover, mitigating factors are not routinely considered in imposing penalties. The crimes are the focus of attention, even when they are out of character for the defendant. Commercial factors, and the process of impaired control and constraints on choice in addiction, are downplayed. Imprisonment is common, and there is no option of prison diversion treatment orders for judges, which are routinely used for drug and alcohol related offences.

This thesis contains two related studies, and a structured, reflective learning journal. The first is a qualitative study examining the case for mitigation in court. It explores participant’s experiences of the process of gambling disorder, and its potential to constrain choices, impair decision making and self-control. It also explores whether commercial factors such as product design, marketing, and loyalty programmes, as well as non-compliance with laws and regulations, significantly influenced participants behaviour and their crimes. The second study, a systematic review, examines six common structural characteristics of slot machines, to examine the potential influence of the product most associated with criminal cases.

Method: A total of thirteen participants (nine male and three female) were recruited, and they completed semi-structured interviews. Interview questions focused on the process of addiction, commercial factors, regulatory compliance, and experiences of the criminal justice system. For the systematic review six common structural characteristics were subjected to the analysis, which revealed 58 suitable studies.

Results: Reflexive thematic analysis revealed four themes: 1) Gambling disorder as mitigation 2) Industry influence 3) Experiences of crime 4) Experiences of the criminal justice system.

Results of the systematic review revealed effects on behaviour for all six common structural characteristics, in terms of increasing gambling behaviour, prolonging play, intensifying play, persisting, distorting perceptions in favour of continued gambling, increasing physiological arousal, and recruiting brain regions responsible for reward learning and motivation.

Conclusions: This study highlighted the need for greater mitigation in court for gamblers accused of financially based crimes, as well as demonstrating a need for the criminal justice system to respond more compassionately and flexibly in these cases. There are also implications for reform and policy to better protect consumers and prevent cases of financially based crimes coming before the courts in the first place.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Gaskell, M.
Binder, J.Thesis
Kitson-Boyce, R.Thesis
Date: 2024
Rights: The copyright in this work is held by the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the author
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 21 Jun 2024 13:39
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 13:39

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