Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Pickernell, DG, Keast, RL & Brown, KA 2010, 'Social clubs and social capital : the effect of electronic gaming machines in disadvantaged regions on the creation or destruction of community resilience', 14th Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPMXIV), University of Berne, Bern, Switzerland, 7-9 April, IRSPM.


The role of particular third sector organisations, Social Clubs, in supporting gambling through the use of EGMs in venues presents as a difficult social issue. Social Clubs gain revenue from gambling activities; but also contribute to social well-being through the provision of services to communities. The revenues derived from gambling in specific geographic locales has been seen by government as a way to increase economic development particularly in deprived areas. However there are also concerns about accessibility of low-income citizens to Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMS) and the high level of gambling overall in these deprived areas. We argue that social capital can be viewed as a guard against deleterious effects of unconstrained use of EGM gambling in communities. However, it is contended that social capital may also be destroyed by gambling activity if commercial business actors are able to use EGMs without community obligations to service provision. This paper examines access to gambling through EGMs and its relationship to social capital and the consequent effect on community resilience, via an Australian case study. The results highlight the potential two-way relationship between gambling and volunteering, such that volunteering (and social capital more generally) may help protect against problems of gambling, but also that volunteering as an activity may be damaged by increased gambling activity. This suggests that, regardless of the direction of causation, it is necessary to build up social capital via volunteering and other social capital activities in areas where EGMS are concentrated. The study concludes that Social Clubs using EGMs to derive funds are uniquely positioned within the community to develop programs that foster social capital creation and build community resilience in deprived areas.

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