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Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling

The Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling was launched by the Howard League for Penal Reform in June 2019. It is scheduled to run for three years and it will try to answer three questions:

  • What are the links between problem gambling and crime?
  • What impact do these links have on communities and society?
  • What should be done?

The Chair of the Commission is Lord Peter Goldsmith QC. He leads a team of 16 Commissioners, comprising academics and professionals with expertise in the criminal justice system and public health as well as experts with knowledge of the gambling industry and lived experience of addiction.

Together, the Commissioners will investigate patterns of crime linked to problem gambling, and the societal harms that connect the two, before seeking to make recommendations for government, the gambling industry and within the criminal justice system.

The Commissioners will focus less on individuals and treatment and more on the broader impact that the links between problem gambling and crime have on communities and society. They will consider how people affected by problem gambling can be diverted from the criminal justice system.

The Commission will look at the driving forces influencing change and practice, including legislation, politics and the media. It will engage with industry and political leaders throughout its work.

The Commission’s work will be promoted through national and international media and on the Howard League website.

The story so far…

Concern about harmful gambling activity has been growing for some time, but this is the first time that a commission has focused specifically on the relationship between problem gambling and crime.

The Commission held its first business meeting in June 2019 and issued a call for written evidence, inviting submissions from academics, practitioners and policy makers within the criminological, legal and health disciplines; the gambling industry; and people who are expert by experience. The Commission welcomed evidence from the UK and overseas. The Commission continues to hold evidence sessions with ministers and senior stakeholders using select committee style meetings.


An academic literature review has been conducted to assist the Commission in its work. The review, Crime and problem gambling: A research landscape is free to download here and the press release announcing its publication can be found here.

Research commissions

The Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling aims to answer the following questions:

• What are the links between crime and problem gambling?
• What impact does this link have on communities and society?
• What should be done?

To support this work the Howard League will be commissioning research. It has been agreed that the first pieces of research will focus on:

• Sentencers’ understanding and treatment of problem gamblers
• The prevalence of problem gambling among those committing crimes
• The lived experience of people through life course analysis of people who have been sent to prison self-reporting as problem gamblers

We are pleased to announce that the Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling’s first research commission is underway. Applications to conduct the second research commission are now open. Visit our Research Commissions page for further information.

The research commissions will be advertised separately. Please register your interest in receiving information about the research commissions by emailing Anita Dockley.

Looking ahead…

The Commission will continue to hold sessions to hear oral evidence from witnesses with insight into crime and problem gambling.

The links between crime and problem gambling will be explored further at live and virtual Howard League events in the future.

Other activities being considered by the Commission include visiting relevant schemes and organisations (when possible), and conducting interviews with those who have offended through problem gambling.

Commissioners may also conduct a field trip to at least one foreign jurisdiction with lessons for England and Wales.

The Commission was due to give a presentation at the postponed Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in 2020.

The Commission will publish its findings through a series of briefings and expects to publish a final report in 2022/3.

Keep in touch with the work of the Commission

Further information on the Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling and commissioners will be available soon.  If you wish to be kept up to date with our progress, please complete the form below.

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