The Social and Economic Context of Gambling

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event, with the intention of winning a prize. The term ‘gambling’ encompasses a wide range of activities, from playing casino games such as slot machines and roulette to betting on sports events or horse races to placing bets with friends. Gambling can be fun and rewarding, but it can also lead to addiction and financial ruin.

Gamble responsibly. Always bet within your means and never borrow to gamble. Make sure you know how much you’re willing to lose before you step onto the casino floor and leave your ATM card at home. Also, tip your cocktail waitresses regularly, especially if they give you free cocktails or are standing by your table. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it will help you stay in control of your gambling and avoid losing more money than you can afford to.

While there is a wealth of gambling research focusing on individual behaviour, addiction and cognitive impairment, there is a growing body of literature considering the wider socio-cultural and economic context that shapes these practices and influences their harmful effects. Practice theorists have highlighted that various forces, including affect (e.g., pleasure, anxiety), general understandings (e.g., family and work), and ideology (e.g., market ideology and neoliberalism) can suffuse a nexus of social practices. Therefore, harm reduction strategies could benefit from a greater emphasis on exploring the wider context of gambling.