This paper argues that gambling research has, since the neoliberal-inspired period of gambling legalisation in the late twentieth century, been dominated by a specific discourse, that of ‘responsible gambling’. This discourse originated in a conjunction of rationalities of government and capital, in the process of which commercial gambling was legitimated. Its liberalisation represented an extension of rationalities and technologies to form a new market from what had previously been an unlawful activity. The problems and harms associated with this liberalisation became subject to claims from some pockets of expertise, notably psy-sciences, and thus became a focus for analysis. As a consequence, gambling research has been characterised by a discourse of individual pathology as the focus of study. The orthodoxy formed from this discourse constitutes a system or apparatus of economic and quasi-medical power, in which reflexive relations between gambling operators, governments, charities, and some researchers, have been significant. These reflexive relations have largely constituted the field of gambling research. This paper contends that the orthodoxy of gambling research has failed to prevent harm arising from gambling and has restricted the expansion of knowledge. A systemic critique of the orthodox discourses and technologies that constitute much of gambling research is required to address these categories. This would also address a lack of diversity in theoretical framings of gambling research priorities. Alternative ways of conceptualising the problem of legalised gambling have emerged, most clearly under the discourse of ‘public health’. The current competition between these two discourses might be categorised as between an orthodoxy (‘responsible gambling’) and a heterodoxy (‘public health’). Extending the heterodoxy into a critical public health discourse may provide a basis for rapid expansion and diversification of the research field, particularly along paths that expand knowledge, facilitate effective regulation of harmful products, and prevent harm to individuals, communities, and populations.
During the last decades, several European gambling markets have been reregulated. In 2019, it was Sweden’s turn; the former oligopoly was replaced by a licensing system. In this article, the governmental inquiry in which the new system was proposed, outlined, and justified is studied using discourse analysis. Medical, public health, and free market discourses have been shown to dominate articulations of gambling in several national contexts, but the ways in which these discourses interact, overlap, and differ are crucial to understand better in order to appreciate the production and legitimation of meanings around gambling. Moreover, the 2019 reregulation has not yet been studied from discursive perspectives; thus, the article makes both theoretical and empirical contributions. The article demonstrates that market and medical discourses structure the inquiry. While they sometimes overlap and merge, their co-existence also causes tensions, for instance regarding whether an increase in gambling is acceptable or not. The article points to a strengthening of market and medical discourses and a weakening of public health discussion within Swedish gambling debates.
The British government is introducing new regulatory measures to address gambling harm, including affordability checks on online players that rely on cross-operators data sharing. This article seeks to understand these measures, and their limits. Section 1 recaps what we already know about differentiated restrictions on access to gambling, including as manifest in recent state-industry efforts to deploy online gambling technologies to identify and preempt gambling harm. Section 2 summarises agreed and proposed changes to British online gambling regulation since 2019, focusing in depth on affordability checks for players and the related imperative to develop a ‘single customer view’ of play. Section 3 outlines two grounds for concern about the measures, rooted in the industry’s enthusiasm for affordability checks, and ii. the implications for groups of customers who may already be disadvantaged and hyper-surveilled. I raise these concerns in an attempt to identify a way out of an impasse, such that urgent concerns about gambling harm do not translate so readily into regulatory efforts to differentially restrict access to ever-expanding groups of adults considered vulnerable.
The degree of involvement in sports gambling activities differs among individuals, in terms of knowledge of the sport they gamble on, and betting dynamics. These sorts of differences have created distinct classes of bettors within the youth gambling population, where the lower strata consult members of the highest stratum to maximise gambling success. This article suggests that, within what is known as a youth gambling population, a community of gamblers exists. This demonstrates the necessity to avoid or mitigate the tendency to treat the youth gambling population as a unified whole. The article also articulates important dynamics of sports gambling culture among young people and explains how the activity is perceived and encouraged among/within a gambling community.