Understanding Gambling From a Practice Theory Perspective

The decision to gamble involves risking something of value, usually money, on an event that is unpredictable. Gambling takes place in a variety of ways, from scratchcards to slot machines, from betting with friends to placing bets online. It is important to understand what gambling is before deciding whether or not to participate.

While many people think of gambling as a harmless pastime, it is important to recognise that it can be dangerous for those who struggle with a gambling problem. Gambling problems can lead to debt, homelessness, and even suicide. For this reason, it is vital to seek help for a gambling problem before it escalates.

Gambling research has been dominated by approaches that focus on human cognition and behaviour, but these tend to overlook the social and cultural contexts in which gambling occurs. Incorporating a practice theory perspective offers a new, more holistic way of exploring gambling. This approach considers the interplay between different elements of a gambling practice – including bodies, materials, language and discourses, and social structures. It also enables us to examine how these elements interact through time, space and jurisdiction.

Unlike more critical approaches, which tend to focus on the neoliberal infused political economy of gambling, a practice theory framework focuses on how a social construct such as mateship and loyalty, thrill and adventure, winning and success, or hedonism is enacted and promoted in practices that involve gambling. This can be particularly useful for researchers who are concerned with understanding how a range of socially embedded factors may influence or suffuse the practices involved in gambling.

A practice theory approach can be used to inform the development of holistic harm reduction strategies that target multiple points of intervention in a multifaceted gambling nexus. These may include policy restrictions on the spaces and places in which gambling can occur, public discourse and media campaigns that challenge the perception that gambling is a normative practice, and harm reduction interventions that aim to reduce the power and influence of global gambling industries and equip people with agency to resist these powers.

The best way to combat a gambling addiction is to create healthy coping mechanisms and make sure that you have a strong support network to lean on. This includes family members, friends, and coworkers. You should also try to engage in activities that are not related to gambling, such as playing sports or reading books. It is also a good idea to join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step recovery program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.

Finally, if you are worried about someone else’s gambling addiction, it is crucial to set boundaries in managing their finances. You should make sure that they only ever gamble with disposable income and never use money that needs to be saved or spent on bills. You should also keep a close eye on their credit cards, ensure that they only have access to limited amounts of cash and that all gambling transactions are recorded in their bank account.