Young, M & Tyler, W 2008, 'Mediating markets: gambling venues, communities and social harm', Gambling Research, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 50-65.
Publisher's PDF available with permission of the publisher, The National Association of Gambling Studies Australia.
Supply-side explanations of gambling behaviour and associated social outcomes have been generally neglected in gambling research efforts. As a consequence, supply structures and their relationships to problem gambling have been poorly understood, although this has not prevented their somewhat questionable translation into regulatory regimes, notably in machine relocation policies. The simplistic assumption behind these initiatives is that problem gambling can be reduced to a linear effect of association between gambling exposure (or supply) and the distribution of gambling opportunities among disadvantaged populations. However, the assumptions contained in this formulation can be shown to be based on either a faulty logic or uncertain and problematic causal sequences. It is argued that this formulation has omitted an important mediating interaction between gambling venues and the wider markets in which they operate. This paper presents an alternate account of the relationship between socio-spatial processes and social outcomes in which the structure, location and uses of gambling venues assume a central position as a mediating factor between supply and demand. The paper then presents a revised conceptual framework of a regulatory area which addresses the complexity of these relationships. Without such consideration of these effects, it is argued that regulatory efforts will be often based on a confused or over-simplistic social logic, one that is unable to reconcile the social outcomes of processes at different geographic scales.