A random database sampling from a small amount of offenders installed with Impulse Control®, IPPC’s remote computer and Internet management system, highlighted approximately 4,000 activities associated with online gambling sites. This number, in and of itself, has little significance until put into the context that 97% of these activities were generated from only four monitored cases. This information has tremendous value to officers, alerting them to potential gambling problems and the financial ills associated with them. A financial crisis caused by gambling impacts not only an offenders ability to pay restitution, child support and other bills, but as the recent study from the University of Alberta reveals, increases his/her likelihood to recidivate.
The University of Alberta study, published in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, revealed that offenders with gambling habits may resort to criminal activities and substance abuse if there are few community supports. Researchers examined the perceptions of correctional officers in Nevada and Utah on offender gambling and its impacts on re-entry. The officers reported that there were a lack of resources and that it was often assumed that other forms of treatment would address gambling problems. Researchers found that gambling often complicates offenders' efforts to live crime-free and say this problem urgently needs to be addressed.
In an earlier study reported by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), researchers examined the link between problem gambling and crime by interviewing arrestees in Las Vegas and Des Moines. Researchers found that the percentage of problem or pathological gamblers among the arrestees was 3 to 5 times higher than in the general population, and that pathological gambling accounted for slightly more than 1 and 10 arrestees.
Researchers also found that:
• nearly 1/3 of arrestees identified as gamblers admitted having committed robbery in the previous year;
• approximately 13% had assaulted someone for money; and
• that they were more likely to have sold drugs than other arrestees.
The American Psychiatric Association defines pathological gambling as an impulse control disorder. Compulsive gamblers can’t control the urge to gamble, and will continue gambling even when they know it is hurting themselves or their loved ones. This disorder can become even more compounded by the convenience of online gambling. All an offender needs to do is to click open an online gambling site, enter his/her credit card information and place a bet – it’s that simple. And with an estimated 2,000 gambling sites worldwide, there are plenty of sites to choose.
Online gambling has exploded into a multi-billion dollar business. However, it is important to mention that none of these sites are hosted in the United States. The U.S. possesses stiff gambling laws. The 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act made it illegal for U.S. financial institutions to transfer money to offshore gambling sites.
While many of these gambling sites have since stopped their services to U.S. residents, an estimated 12.5 million Americans gamble online. This is because the ban is almost impossible to enforce. Internet sites that host the games store their computer servers and track their bets offshore beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement.
Perspective of Gambling and Offender Supervision
Both the University of Alberta study and the study reported by the NIJ revealed that offenders’ gambling addictions may threaten rehabilitation efforts. Additionally, the accessibility of gambling online may be compounding the problem making it easier than ever for offenders to fuel their addictive habits. As a result, agencies may want to find ways to address this problem and provide interventions for offenders.
Policy implications of the NIJ study suggest that agencies use psychological tests or abbreviated versions during intake interviews to identify offenders with real or potential gambling problems. Agencies could then create referral systems to link offenders to programs that offer gambling treatment and support. Agencies could also develop their own programs or incorporate treatment into existing programs for illegal drug or alcohol use.
Among some tools available, IPPC’s remote computer and Internet management solution, featuring Impulse Control® software, can be used in conjunction with treatment efforts to address gambling addictions. Through the management program, officers and treatment providers can track offender’s online Internet use including access to online gambling sites.
As the IPPC database sampling revealed, assessment
of addictive behaviors through this tool is relatively easy. Top-100 Internet Activity reports break down the average viewing time of specific sites and calculate how the offender’s time at these sites, such as pokerstars.com, relate to the offender’s overall Internet use. Based on
this information, officers and treatment providers can collaborate to design an effective computer and Internet behavior-management strategy.
For example, one strategy might include creating an Internet curfew. This combined with traditional techniques for controlling impulses, such as setting personal limits, can be used to help curb addictions. If the offender fails to meet his/her personal limit, such as stopping online activities at 8:00 p.m., the software will automatically do it for him. Other strategies may include blocking specific gambling sites or gaming sites as an entire category or some combination of all of these. IPPC routinely consults with agencies to provide a customized and tailored approach to offender computer and Internet management. To learn more about IPPC’s solution, please visit www.ImpulseControl.net.
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Problem Gambling Quiz
1. (YES or NO) You have often gambled longer than you had planned.
2. (YES or NO) You have often gambled until your last dollar was gone.
3. (YES or NO) Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep.
4. (YES or NO) You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid.
5. (YES or NO) You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.
6. (YES or NO) You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling.
7. (YES or NO) You have borrowed money to finance your gambling.
8. (YES or NO) You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses.
9. (YES or NO) You have been remorseful after gambling.
10.(YES or NO) You have gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations.
If your offenders answer “Yes” to any of these questions, consider providing them assistance from a professional regarding this gambling behavior by calling the National Problem Gambling HelpLine Network (800.522.4700) toll free and confidential throughout the U.S.
Source: National Council on Problem Gambling Site. 7 Oct. 2009. Web. 7 Oct. 2009. <http://www.ncpgambling.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1 >.
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Potential Evidence in a Gambling Investigation
According to the National Institute of Justice’s Electronic Crime Scene Investigation Guide, potential evidence in gambling investigations include:
• Removable media
• PDA, address books, or contact lists
• External data storage devices
• Customer database and bettor records
• Information regarding Internet activity
• Electronic money transfers
• Online banking software
• Sports betting statistics
• Customer information or credit card data
• Financial asset records
• Printed e-mail, notes, and letters
• References to online gambling sites
Source: National Institute of Justice. "Electronic Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First Responders, Second Edition." U.S Department of Justice Site. Apr. 2008. Web. 7 Oct. 2009. <http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/219941.pdf >.
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Cyber Supervision Webinar for Corrections Officers
Sign up to participate in IPPC’s FREE Cyber Supervision Webinar online. This is your opportunity to learn how probation, parole and pretrial agencies are using IPPC’s technologies to remotely manage the computer and Internet activities of sex offenders, hackers, copyright infringers and other cyber deviants.
Monitoring computer and Internet use is not difficult and you do not have to be a technology expert to do it. In fact, as an officer, you are the most qualified person to review your offenders’ computer and Internet activities. Join this 45-minute webinar to learn why. Other topics that will be covered include the following:
• Computer and Internet Management vs. Forensics & Analysis Tools
• Overview of How Real-time, Remote Computer & Internet Management Works
• Discussion of Internet vs. No-Internet Access and the Management Solutions
• Balancing Community Safety with Offender/Defendant Rights
• Reporting of Offender/Defendant Computer and Internet Activities
• Demonstration of Impulse Control® software
The webinar will be hosted on the following dates:
• Friday, October 30th @ 2PM EST/ 1PM CST/ 12PM MST/ 11AM CST
• Friday, November 6th @ 2PM EST/ 1PM CST/ 12PM MST/ 11AM CST
• Friday, November 20th @ 2PM EST/ 1PM CST/ 12PM MST/ 11AM CST
To participate in the webinar, you will need access to a computer with an Internet connection. Confirm you spot now by emailing training@ImpulseControl.net.
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