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Exploring gambling and its role within prison culture: “You can be flying high, then fighting”

The report of the Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms

  • ISBN: 978-1-911114-77-2

  • Published: 2023

  • Pages: 64

  • Publisher: The Howard League for Penal Reform


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This research, published by the Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms, explores the growing role of gambling in prison culture and the damaging impact this can have on people living behind bars.

While gambling is not officially sanctioned in prison, it has become increasingly normalised and is often seen in a positive light, with people playing with currency ranging from money and material goods to acts of service.

But the research also uncovered links to serious acts of bullying, manipulation and violence, and found that prison staff had limited awareness of the ways in which gambling can be problematic and harmful.

Co-produced by a team comprising researchers in the community and peer researchers living in prison, this one of a series of research reports published by the Commission, which was set up by the Howard League for Penal Reform to investigate the links between crime and gambling-related harms, what impact they have on communities and wider society, and what steps could be taken to reduce crime and make people safer.

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