This study addresses criminal convictions, social disadvantage and problem gambling as an interwoven set of problems. It makes use of data from a population-based gambling survey (n = 7,186) conducted in three Finnish regions. The survey data are combined with national registers to examine associations between sociodemographic factors and gambling severity, comparing persons with and without a criminal record. Gambling behavior included past-year (2016) gambling severity and perceived life-time problem gambling. Social disadvantage was assessed using sociodemographic factors such as education, employment status, level of income and receipt of basic social assistance. Logistic regression analysis showed that both past-year problem or pathological gambling (OR: 2.725) and perceived life-time gambling problems (OR: 2.363) were associated with having a conviction, compared to recreational gambling. Low education, unemployment, low income and receipt of basic social assistance were associated with receiving a conviction. When gender, age and sociodemographic factors were controlled for, odds ratios for both past-year gambling problems (OR: 1.223) and perceived life-time gambling problems (OR: 1.586) did not remain statistically significant. The current study suggests that preventive efforts against problem gambling and interventions in criminal justice systems should be expanded to incorporate the aim of reducing social disadvantage.
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