This chapter is organized into two parts: the first introduces gambling addiction, and the second delves into the specific links between gambling addiction and forensic psychiatry.
Gambling, the betting something of value (usually money) on a game or event whose outcome is unpredictable and determined by chance,1 is a harmless pastime for most. According to the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS),2 73% of adults in Britain had engaged in at least one gambling activity in the past year. The most popular gambling activities were the national lottery (59%), other lotteries (25%), scratch cards (24%), betting on horse races (16%), playing slot machines (13%), and private betting (11%). But for a significant small minority, gambling can progress from being a recreational activity to being a problem or addiction. Akin to substance (alcohol or drug) use behaviors, gambling behaviors exist on a scale of escalating severity, ranging from normal/recreational gambling through problem gambling to gambling addiction.