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Impacting attitudes towards gambling: A prison gambling awareness and prevention program

Gary Nixon, Gordon Leigh, Nadine Nowatzki


Research indicates that approximately one third of prison inmates meet the criteria for problem or pathological gambling (Williams, Royston, & Hagen, 2005). However, despite this rate being among the highest of all gambling populations (Walters, 1997; Shaffer & Hall, 2001), there appears to be a lack of prison gambling awareness and prevention programs. This study sought to develop, implement, and evaluate one such program at the Lethbridge Correctional Facility in Alberta, Canada. Forty-nine inmates completed a six-session program over 18 months. Gambling screen results revealed a significant increase in cognitive error recognition, and attitudes towards gambling became significantly more negative. The program did not render any significant differences in math skill score, Canadian Problem Gambling Index (CPGI) score, or past-year South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) score. Changes in the past-year frequency score approached significance. This study suggests that programs of this kind can be effective for inmate populations, particularly in changing attitudes towards gambling.


prison; inmate; problem gambling; pathological gambling; prevention

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