Online sports betting

Betting & Domestic Violence - Are They Connected?

Domestic violence is a serious issue - one that, unfortunately, has continued to escalate in severity as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to drag on.

With the Virginia legislature legalizing online sports betting in January of 2021, shortly after legalizing general betting in the state in 2020, concerns about the connection between betting and domestic violence are becoming more prevalent. In today's blog, we explore those concerns.

To schedule a consultation with our team and receive experienced legal counsel for your family law or criminal defense case, contact our office online or via phone at (757) 517-2942.

What's the Link Between Domestic Violence & Betting?

A recently released study by the Australian National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS) posited that gambling problems could exacerbate intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents, and it's far from the first academic study to report such findings. The University of Toledo also collected numbers indicating that IPV incidents occurred in more than 60% of families that also reported dealing with gambling addictions.

At first glance, the relationship between domestic violence and betting isn't obvious. But when you dig into what lies under gambling addictions in many cases - namely, money problems - a link between the two starts to make more sense.

Domestic violence often follows a "cycle" of sorts:

  1. Tension-building phase. At this stage, the abuser may begin to grow more agitated over relatively minor issues, such as their spouse forgetting to empty the dishwasher or saying something that the abuser considers "inappropriate."
  2. Incident of abuse or violence. After growing progressively more frustrated, the abuser often lashes out toward the victim/survivor in an incident of abuse or violence. This can include verbal abuse, such as threats or shouting, or physical abuse, such as slaps, grabbing forcefully, and other harmful behaviors.
  3. Reconciliation. Frequently, abusers fear the repercussions of their behavior. After committing an act of domestic violence, abusers often try and reconcile with the survivor/victim, promising that they'll reform their behavior.
  4. Calm. After trying to reconcile with the survivor/victim, the abuser will often try and maintain a sense of calm to stop the survivor/victim from reporting their behavior to law enforcement or taking steps to leave the relationship.

Once the calm stage is reached, the abuser often slowly slips into the tension-building phase again, eventually repeating the cycle. The severity of the abuse or violence often increases each time the cycle occurs.

Taking the cycle into account, we can easily see how a gambling or betting addiction may play into that cycle:

  1. Tension-building phase. Money is often cited as one of the things couples are most likely to fight over with one another. For abusers who also have a gambling habit, attempts to cover their financial troubles or probes by a partner into the addiction could result in the same frustration and anger associated with this phase in the cycle of violence.
  2. Incident of abuser or violence. Eventually, an abuser with a gambling addiction may lash out with verbal abuse or physical violence toward their partner, spurred on by a lack of control over their habit or anger at attempts by the survivor/victim to help them.
  3. Reconciliation and calm. During these stages, an abuser with a gambling problem may attempt to promise the other party they'll reform their behavior, perhaps through means such as quitting gambling or attending rehab.

It's already well-known among researchers that addictive behavior, such as substance abuse, can often be linked with domestic violence. As a result, it becomes fairly easy to see how an abusive individual may initiate acts of domestic violence while engaged in a gambling addiction.

Consequences of Domestic Violence & Gambling in Virginia

In Virginia, domestic assault and battery or family abuse are classified as Class 1 misdemeanors punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. If an individual is convicted of family violence three or more times within a ten-year span, they may spend up to 10 years in jail.

While gambling addiction doesn't carry any specific charge, it is often affiliated with activities that could result in criminal charges, such as fraud or illegal gambling. Individuals may also find themselves in enough trouble financially that filing for bankruptcy is necessary to regain control of their finances.

At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, our attorneys help clients navigate complex criminal and family law cases, including domestic violence disputes.

To schedule a consultation with our team and receive experienced, compassionate counsel for your case, contact us online or via phone at (757) 517-2942.