Defining the ‘Defined’ – Problem Gambling and Pathological Gambling: Impact on Policy and Legislation

UNLV GAMING L. J. (Spring 2014 Forthcoming)

83 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2014 Last revised: 17 Mar 2014

See all articles by Sarah Hinchliffe

Sarah Hinchliffe

College of William and Mary - Mason School of Business; William & Mary Law School

Date Written: January 1, 2014


For many people gambling is a legitimate part of their leisure and recreation activities. While most people who gamble do so in a responsible manner and enjoy gambling as entertainment, for some it is a cause of problems for themselves, their families and the community.

This paper highlights the shifts in regulatory priorities and identifies that, with the emergence of more elaborate methods of gambling and related activities, coupled with an effluent health policy sphere (particularly concerning mental health and disability law), and consumer protection laws, regulation of gambling providers appears to have become a logistical nightmare for both problem gamblers and gambling providers. Although several jurisdictions have seen the legitimization of gambling activities, the focus of this paper centers around the United States.

This paper highlights the discrepancies and ability to classify ‘pathological gambling’, as opposed to merely ‘compulsive’ or ‘problem gambling’, as a ‘disability’ under disability discrimination legislation, in particular the Americans with Disabilities Act. This paper identifies strengths and weaknesses of findings that could be applied to comparable common law jurisdictions also with a strong emphasis on disability law and human rights, including the United Kingdom and Australia. In so doing, this paper highlights the important cross-disciplinary role that science plays in legislative and policy development.

Keywords: Gambling, Pathological Gambling, DSM-V, Gambling Disorder, Health Policy, Disability Law

Suggested Citation

Hinchliffe, Sarah, Defining the ‘Defined’ – Problem Gambling and Pathological Gambling: Impact on Policy and Legislation (January 1, 2014). UNLV GAMING L. J. (Spring 2014 Forthcoming), Available at SSRN:

Sarah Hinchliffe (Contact Author)

College of William and Mary - Mason School of Business ( email )

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Williamsburg, VA 23185
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(757) 221 2756 (Phone)


William & Mary Law School ( email )

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