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Session Overview
RN05_11a_P: Gambling, Gaming and Play in Society
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Michael Egerer, University of Helsinki
Location: PA.1.1
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 1.

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Consumption for the Public Good. Gambling as a Funding Source for ”Good Causes”

Pekka Juhani Sulkunen

University of Helsinki, Finland

Gambling regulation often aims to lower the risk of gambling-related harm and to provide consumer protection, but these are not its only functions. Gambling involves a “rent”, an excess amount of revenue over the cost of providing the service plus normal profit and taxes. This surplus is usually directed to specified “good causes” and used to justify legalization and expansion of gambling activities. The other side of the argument is to prevent crime and corruption. The money flows within and outside of the regulatory system, and the institutional structures of regulation themselves, generate dependencies and interests. The more gambling develops, the stronger these interests become. This paper describes in what way and to what extent different regulatory regimes are able to collect gambling money for good causes and assesses how successful they are in justifying gambling policies in this way. The conclusion is that in many advanced economies gambling returns are a significant funding source for sports, culture, science, as well as health and welfare services, comparable to the returns from alcohol or tobacco taxes. There is no systematic difference between regimes based on monopolies, licensed companies or associations as gambling operators. Gambling as a funding source for public services is redistributive from poor to rich, does not eliminate crime and generates a cost from problem gambling leading to financial trouble, health and social losses. The analysis is based on data from governments and gambling operators.

Problem Gambling as a Social Risk – the Impact of Life Cycle and Social Class

Thomas Jean Amadieu

Renmin University of China, China, People's Republic of

Gambling is intrinsically linked to the issue of intensified inequalities in European societies since the economic crisis in 2008. First because these devices of random allocation of resources attract a public mainly from the popular and precarious classes. But also because gambling exposes their practitioners to significant risks related to addiction that can lead to increased impoverishment (over-indebtedness, theft, divorce, social isolation, etc.). Gambling plays undoubtedly a role in the risk of poverty, that remains largely unexplored.

The issue of addiction to gambling has mainly been addressed in the context of a medical apprehension of the phenomenon, but social factors are increasingly apprehended in relation to the psychiatric or neurological dimensions. At the social level, the dynamics of extreme consumption of gambling are linked to a complex interaction between class, life cycle and familial situation. This paper extends a growing concern in the field of addiction studies for the interplay between "micro" dynamics of addiction, namely individual careers and life events (divorce, job loss, etc.), and "macro" factors such as social status and class.

I will present the results of a quantitative analysis carried out from the OFDT-INPES health barometer 2015, on the consumption of gambling in general population in France. A model of the dynamics of exposure to the risk of problem gambling will be proposed.

How to become a gambler? Set of meaning attributed by young people to the practice of betting

Federica Chiusole

University of Bologna, Italy

Since the 1980s gambling has become a global phenomenon legalized and popular in Western societies. Even being globally spread, each local context adapts this practice according to its cultural canons and its set of shared meanings. In this sense, also Italy is characterized by a wide offer of places and practices. To understand how the different forms of gambling are conceived as legitimate and continued to be practiced everyday is fundamental in order to better understand the whole structure of late capitalism.

Within this theoretical framework, this contribution aims to observe the betting practices diffused among youth population in Italy. Actually, betting is something traditionally embedded in the Italian culture; however, the pluralization of betting palimpsests occurred since the 2000s, as well as the possibility to bet online, have profoundly modified these practices.

This contribution tries to analyze the first results of an empirical research on gambling, that I am currently conducting in Bologna (Italy). The research is based on qualitative methods, i.e. in depth-interviews with betting shop holder and players and participant observation inside betting shops.

The aim of this research is trying to understand how young people, grew up in a symbolic frame and with an exposure to gambling that differs from the adults’ experience, consider this practice and what meanings they attribute to it. Though the analysis of qualitative data, and following an interationist perspective (Becker, 1969), the contribution is going to provide some considerations on how young people become gamblers; on the importance of social context in shaping the gaming practices; and on the set of moral values that young people attributed to their everyday practice of gambling.

The gambler, the game and the machine – An actor-network analysis of Finnish and French recreational gamblers

Michael Egerer

University of Helsinki, Finland

Background: In the international research literature, the interaction between the game and the gambler is often conceptualised as “the zone”, and a space separated from ordinary life. This perspective, however, neglects the varying regulations concerning placement of gambling opportunities.

Aim: This article asks if Finnish recreational gamblers, who gamble in an everyday environment, perceive their gambling activity and its risks differently than French gamblers, who gamble often in the time-out environment of a casino.

Method: Reception Analytical Group Interviews RAGI, a stimulated focus-group method, were conducted. The data consist of 14 Finnish and 14 French groups with altogether 110 participants. Actor-network theory informed the analysis.

Results: The other gambler takes the position of an important actor in both countries. For the French gamblers, however, the other gambler appears in a more positive light and enables to enjoy any type of game more. In the Finnish context, the character of the other-gambler depends on the context and the kind of game. In the casino the other-gambler is also part of the enjoyable gambling experience; in poker the other-gambler acts only in enabling the game of the gambler via the money they bring into the game.

Conclusions: The regulatory context of the different type of games has an influence on the interaction between the game and the gambler beyond the game characteristics. Taking the findings of the international research from mostly Anglo-Saxon context to inform policies elsewhere has to be seen hence as questionable.

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