The widespread introduction of electronic gaming machines (EGMs) in Australia has seen problem gambling (PG) rates soar over the past decade. This has been particularly apparent among women, with presentations to gambling help services increasing fivefold, and 90% of them indicating EGMs as the problem. Prisoners represent a group containing the highest PG rate found in any population. Despite a sharp increase in PG among women and the well-established link between offenders and PG, little data exists concerning PG among female prisoners. This study examined lifetime prevalence of PG among female prisoners in South Australia. The Early Intervention Gambling Health Test was administered to 74 female prisoners. Previous help-seeking behaviour and association with incarceration were also examined. Sixty-four percent of respondents indicated PG with one in six reporting they were incarcerated due to PG-related offending. Problem gamblers whose incarceration was related to PG were more likely to indicate they had gambled to try and win money to repay debts than problem gamblers incarcerated for unrelated offending. Given high levels of PG and overall low rates of help-seeking, women’s prisons may provide an opportunity to engage this high-risk population with effective treatment.
- problem gambling