Gambling is no ordinary commodity. As a phenomenon it is fabricated and learned socially and culturally. In order to spend money on a game, humans must not only learn the logic of the game (“four cherries in a row are worth more than three hats”) but they must also be internalised in a (il)logical bundle of justifications in terms of the value of doing so (“it is fun”; “I will become rich”, or “If I play enough times, the likelihood of winning increases”). In this issue of Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs the latter circumstance of a cultural internalisation is demonstrated by Egerer and Marionneau’s (2019) article on cultures and the convenience of gambling among Finnish and French gamblers. Their study shows that the activity has a different cultural position in the two countries: the internalising into gambling belongs in Finland to the sphere of everyday life, but in France it is connected with the peculiarities of the casino environment (see also Marionneau, 2015). This makes gambling such an intriguing case for cultural studies.
In many countries, lottery games and other gambling activities were first provided and handled by civil society associations in order to collect incomes for their work. This is indeed a practical way of generating money: readers are likely, for example, to be familiar with school events where there is a lottery, and the revenues go to a school trip or some other venture that supports the children’s school atmosphere or educational path.
When a need arose by jurisdictions to regulate gambling more thoroughly, it was primarily for fiscal reasons (Sulkunen et al., 2018). In addition, there were a string of issues attached to this question of regulation: who was to gain revenues from gambling and how much; who was allowed to play; and where should the gambling activities take place? The bigger the gambling industry grew, the more questions followed – and appeared to have been overlooked historically.
Now that the global gambling market is worth almost 500 billion USD gross yield (Statista, 2018), there is a great societal demand for making gambling policy a more integrated object of sociological, social political, and political science research. This thematic issue of NAD tries to answer this need by filling a small part of the gap in the Nordic literature.
Article available online
Reference: Hellman, M. (2019). Gambling – No ordinary commodity. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 36(2), 63-65. https://doi.org/10.1177/1455072519826739