Scholarly research into gambling did not formally begin until 1974, with the First Annual Conference on Gambling being held in Las Vegas. Since then, a plethora of academic research has been published, most of it focusing on problem gambling, be it relating to its behavioural causes, the mechanisms of EGMs and their relation to problem gambling, and/or gambling and its consequences. In 1997 however, Shaffer called for a greater adherence to rigorous scientific standards than is typical in much of the gambling research literature to date. Against the background of the moral and public policy issues surrounding gambling, strong adherence to either a pro- or anti-gambling view renders the objectivity tenet of scientific discourse virtually irrelevant. McGowan (1997) is also critical of a researcher’s ideological stance being brought into play, as he considers that it inevitably prevents the conducting of mature, high-quality gambling research, a point reinforced by McMillan (2009). The ‘anti’ gambling group is classified under the ‘Ethics of Sacrifice’ and the ‘pro’ group under the ‘Ethics of Tolerance’ (McGowan 1997). Like Shaffer (1997), McGowan argues that a middle (objective) road should be taken in gambling research. The majority of gambling academic literature focuses on problem/pathological gambling, thus ignoring the reality that, for the majority of its adherents, gambling is an act of free choice with minimal harmful consequences. In the U.S., the emphasis on problem gambling has been to view it as a medical disorder whereas in Australia it is viewed in terms of the social harm caused not only to the problem gambler but to the additional 5-10 people who are also affected by the gambler’s addiction (Productivity Commission 1999, p. 21). This paper discusses the interdisciplinary gambling literature.
Copyright Common Ground and The Author/s. Article originally published in International journal of interdisciplinary social sciences, Vol. 5, Issue 11, pp. 215-225. This version archived on behalf of the author/s and is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission must be sought from the publisher to republish or reproduce or for any other purpose.