Gambling and Social Theory Part 1

By James Cosgrave
Department of Sociology, Trent University Durham
How to cite: Cosgrave J. (2020). Gambling and Social Theory - Part 1. Critical Gambling Studies. Gambling has had a long history characterized by periods of condemnation and widespread participation, sometimes exuberant. When David Downes and his colleagues remarked (in 1976) on the social scientific value of Erving Goffman’s (1967) analysis of gambling and action in ‘Where the Action Is’, they said the essay ‘lifts gambling out of the moral abyss into which successive generations of commentators and reformers have consigned it and renders possible a consideration of its meaning which is freed from a priori association of a negative kind’ (Downes et al., 1976). The implications of these comments would be that gambling could be analyzed, without moral condemnation, as a phenomenon in its own right.It is tempting to say that, now, in general terms given widespread legalization over the last sev…

Cashless play in UK bingo: Two paradoxes in the use of player surveillance tools

Cashless play in UK bingo: Two paradoxes in the use of player surveillance tools.[1Professor Kate Bedford, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, UK. Email:
How to cite: Bedford K. (2020). Cashless play in UK bingo: Two paradoxes in the use of player surveillance tools. Critical Gambling Studies.
Introduction What can bingo can add to our academic, law, and policy debates about gambling and political economy? [2] I have been trying, for a while now, to make the case that bingo matters to academics - in its own right (it is a globally-significant, popular, though under-researched form of play that has historically been central to the development of gambling law and policy) - and because it offers a new lens on broader concerns about diverse economies, and the ways in which they are shaped by law. Like many other authors interested in this new journal, I spend much of my time arguing that the concerns of mainstream gambling studi…

Addiction, Ground Rents, and Urban Casino Development

By Martin Young and Francis Markham
How to cite: Young M., & Markham F. (2020). Addiction, Ground Rents, and Urban Casino Development. Critical Gambling Studies, 6.
Casino development has become a favoured urban development strategy in a number of post-industrialising western economies (Hannigan, 2007). These developments are often justified on the basis that casinos attract reputedly rich and super-rich consumers from other places in what amounts to a rather convenient geographical transfer of value. These wealthy consumers, so the mercantilist argument goes, enrich both the casino owners and the broader public through taxes and license fees. Moreover, these gambling dollars are imported, while the effects and responsibility for problem gambling, one of the key arguments against gambling developments, are conveniently exported. A second argument, particularly favoured by the gambling industry and other casino proponents, is the creation of local jobs, …