Gambling is not a capitalist conspiracy: a critical commentary of literature on the ‘industry state gambling complex’

Paul Delfabbro, Daniel King

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Research into the political economy of gambling, arising particularly from the fields of sociology and geography, has made many much-needed contributions to gambling studies. It has highlighted the association between gambling and social disadvantage and also highlighted the conflict of interest that arises when governments who liberalize gambling also benefit from the resultant taxation revenue. This has led a number of authors to argue that the global gambling industry, as well as many governments and academics, are party to a modern capitalist conspiracy that (a) redistributes wealth and subjugates the disadvantaged and (b) pathologizes problem gamblers to deflect blame from the industry. This article provides a critical appraisal of these arguments with reference to papers from some of the leading authors in this area. It argues that the important contributions of this area have been tarnished by the overuse of politicized and polemical language in academic/scientific contexts, by the use of conspiracy-style arguments and by unjustified criticism of the behavioural and medical sciences. It also argues that the field of gambling studies is strengthened when generalizations about the role of industry are always supported by tangible examples and evidence at each stage of the critique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-331
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Gambling Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • capitalism
  • conspiracy
  • gambling industry
  • political-economy
  • problem gambling


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