Addiction, Ground Rents, and Urban Casino Development

By Martin Young and Francis Markham
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, both in construction and subsequent casino operations. For example, the Canadian casino operator Gateway Casino and Entertainment has organised its new casino pro…

Rethinking Stigma and Gambling

By Helen Keane
Stigma is an unusually successful sociological concept. Not only has it flourished in public health and social psychology by capturing the powerful effects of social exclusion on wellbeing, it has become part of vernacular language. The downside of this success is a loss of precision and diminishment of critical incisiveness. Rather than designating a political and social relationship based on the exercise of power, stigma is commonly used to refer to general reactions of social disapproval and/or the negative associations linked to particular conditions or identities. The critical element that remains intact is the idea of unjustified disapproval: to say that an attribute is stigmatised is to claim that is wronglysubject to discrimination or devaluation.
However, stigma has recently benefitted from revitalising sociological attention and reformation. In the context of contemporary problems of inequality and injustice, Imogen Tyler and Tom Slater have highlighted an urgen…

Money Laundering in British Columbia Casinos

By Garry Smith

The Issue For the past decade Vancouver casinos have been a haven for loan sharks and money launderers seeking to camouflage and exploit the proceeds of drug trafficking. These activities have made Vancouver casinos a cesspool of financial crime. High rolling Chinese organized crime members were recruited in Macau casinos to gamble in Vancouver. Millions of dollars from illegal drug sales in China were first deposited into illegal Canadian banks, then later retrieved by gang members to gamble in lower mainland British Columbia casinos. Preferring to play baccarat in exclusive VIP rooms with a maximum wager of $100,000; win or lose, after cashing out, ‘dirty’ drug money is converted into ‘deodorized’ untraceable casino chips. An estimated $2 billion in ill-gotten gains was washed through Vancouver gambling outlets (much of it in Richmond’s River Rock casino). The Vancouver Sun investigative reporter who uncovered the scandal, estimated that the top ten Chinese VIPs account…

The Walking Dead: Conflicts of Interest in Gambling and Video Gaming Reviewing

By Fiona Nicoll and Mark R Johnson

One of the most successful media franchises of recent years is The Walking Dead, a set of stories focused on survival in a zombie apocalypse. TWD originated as a graphic novel before expanding into a television series (just finishing its ninth season), a number of video games, and a series of “electronic gaming machines” (EGMs) designed by major gambling company Aristocrat. At this link – – the trailer for the slot machine makes clear both its connections to the franchise as a whole, and how traditional elements of slot machines have been “rebranded” in the Walking Dead context.  These multiple media adaptations make The Walking Dead an exemplary set of texts for examining and unpacking some of the intriguing differences between gambling and video gaming versions of a media item. Specifically, they allow us to compare how processes of product reviewing are understood, framed, and performed. With …