Men who gamble are more likely to act violently towards others, with the highly addicted gamblers most prone to serious violence, new research has found.
Researchers found that gambling in any capacity - pathological, problem, or so-called casual gambling – related to significantly increased risk of violence, including domestic abuse.
Researchers from the University of Lincoln and Imperial College London in the UK surveyed 3,025 men about whether they had ever engaged in violent behavior, including if they had ever been in a physical fight, assaulted or deliberately hit anyone, if they had used a weapon, and whether the violence was perpetrated when they were drunk or on drugs.
The survey also asked if they had ever hit a child, suffered from mental illness, whether they took regular medication, or exhibited impulsive behavior.
The men surveyed - who came from a range of socio-economic backgrounds across the UK and varied in age - were also asked about whether they gambled.
Eighty per cent of participants admitted to taking part in some sort of gambling activity during their lifetime.
The researchers found a statistically significant link between gambling and violent behavior, which became starker the more severe the gambling habit.
Just over half of pathological gamblers, 45 per cent of problem gamblers, and 28 per cent of 'casual gamblers' reported some form of physical fight in the past five years.
In contrast, among the non-gamblers, only 19 per cent reported being involved in violence.
Additionally, gambling was associated with an increased likelihood of weapons being used in acts of violence, with more than a quarter in the pathological category, 18 per cent of problem gamblers, and seven per cent of non-problem gamblers reporting weapon usage.
Just over 15 per cent of non-problem gamblers also admitted to having had a fight while intoxicated, which rose to more than a quarter in problem gamblers and almost a third in pathological gamblers.
The study also found that pathological and problem gamblers are more likely to have hit a child, with almost 10 per cent of pathological gamblers and just over six per cent of problem gamblers admitting to such behavior.
Those with likely pathological gambling problems also had increased odds of committing violent behavior against a partner.
The results remained statistically significant even after adjusting the data to account for related characteristics such as mental illness or impulsive behavior.
However, it was not clear whether gambling and the propensity towards violence have a common cause, or whether one increases risk of the other.
The research was published in the journal Addiction.