Gambling and Homelessness: Prevalence and Pathways

  • Steve SharmanEmail author
Gambling (L Clark, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Gambling


Purpose of Review

The review sought to present research pertaining to gambling and homelessness. Findings mapping the prevalence of disordered gambling within the homeless and those exploring the bi-directional nature of the relationship are discussed. The review explores theoretical explanations for the appeal of gambling to homeless individuals and discusses future directions.

Recent Findings

Research indicates the prevalence of disordered gambling is significantly higher in the homeless, comparable to the general population. Further research indicates that gambling is more commonly a factor contributing to homelessness, that gambling disorders are often overlooked by homeless services, and that support services are often inadequate.


Disordered gambling is common in homelessness; however, the relationship is bi-directional. Gambling can be a direct cause of homelessness, a secondary contributing factor, or only develop after the individual has become homeless. Potential for significant life change is a motivating factor for gambling; for a homeless individual, a small win could be the difference between eating and not eating, or between sleeping in a hostel or on the street. Homeless services can provide a platform for problem identification and direction to the provision of support.


Gambling Homelessness Prevalence Disordered gambling Pathological gambling 


Funding information

Dr. Sharman is currently funded by an Academic Fellowship from the Society for the Study of Addiction. Some of Dr. Sharman’s previous work referenced in this review [67•] was funded by GambleAware. GambleAware is an independent charity tasked to fund research, education and treatment services to help reduce gambling-related harms in Great Britain, funded via voluntary donations from the gambling industry.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Sharman declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies reporting new data with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors. All studies referenced authored by the author of this article were conducted after receiving appropriate ethical approval.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of East LondonStratfordUK

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