Description: There are now signs that, after decades of phenomenal growth, the era of unrestrained gambling liberalisation may be coming to an end. However, the power of The Gambling Establishment is formidable and it will certainly fight back. Drawing on research and policy examples from around the world, the book provides a unified understanding of the dangerousness of modern commercialised gambling, how its expansion has been deliberately or inadvertently supported, and how the backlash is now occurring.
The term Gambling Establishment is defined to include the industry which sells gambling, governments which support it, and a wider network of organisations and individuals who have subscribed to the ‘responsible gambling’ Establishment discourse. Topics covered include: the psychology of how gambling is now being advertised and promoted and the way it is designed to deceive gamblers about their chances of winning; the increased exposure of young people to gambling and the alignment of gambling with sport; understanding the experience of gambling addiction; the various public health harms of gambling at individual, family, community and societal levels; and how evidence has been used to resist change. The book’s final chapter offers the author’s manifesto for policy change, designed with Britain particularly in mind but likely to have relevance elsewhere.
With detailed examples given of the ways a number of countries are responding to these threats to their citizens’ health, this book will be of global interest for academics, researchers, policymakers and service providers in the field of gambling or other addictions specifically, and public health and social policy generally. Book details
Contents: Introduction 01. The new backlash against the growth of commercial gambling 02. The Gambling Establishment: the industry and its allies inside and outside government 03. The Establishment discourse: five ways we were told how to think about gambling 04. How Gambling is forcibly advertised and sold in the modern era 05. Is modern gambling fraudulent? How players are deceived about the chances of winning 06. Understanding gambling addiction: bringing personal experience and theory together 07. Gambling’s harm to individuals, families, communities and society 08. How the Gambling Establishment has used evidence to support Its position 09. Resisting the power of the Gambling Establishment: A Manifesto for Change.
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
Problem gambling is now recognised as a major public health issue, with some gambling products posing significant burdens for individuals, families and communities. While gambling has attracted significant political and media attention, governments have been largely unwilling to implement a comprehensive approach to gambling reform. This article reviews the evidence base associated with gambling harm and advocates for a shift in focus away from initiatives that focus on responsible gambling, towards an approach that recognises the mutual obligation between industry, individuals, governments and the general community to engage in practices that prevent the development of gambling-related harm.
Source: Thomas, S. L., & Thomas, S. D. (2015). The big gamble: The need for a comprehensive research approach to understanding the causes and consequences of gambling harm in Australia. Australasian Epidemiologist, 22(1), 39.