Towards a critical geography of gambling spaces: the Australian experience

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Young, M 2011, 'Towards a critical geography of gambling spaces: the Australian experience', Human Geography, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 33-47.


I attempt to develop a critical geography of gambling in Australia with particular reference to the proliferation of electronic gaming machines (EGMs), the Australian variant of the Vegas-style ‘slot-machine’, devices that have infiltrated nearly all settlements in the country over the past two decades. As a starting point, I borrow from David Harvey’s analysis of the dual logics of power within ‘capitalist imperialism’ to reveal the dialectical relations between the state and capital that have been responsible for the mass production of local EGM spaces of consumption. I develop the argument that EGM gambling, through its reproduction of bounded spaces, represents a new wave of global capital accumulation where local citizens are reconstituted according to the imperative of global aleatory consumption. The overlay of the postmodern on the logic of capital accumulation amounts to a stunningly efficient form of exploitation where consumption has been reduced to the pure cash nexus. A new set of dependencies has emerged in that the state, social service sector, and gambling industry have become terminally reliant on the most disadvantaged members of society to resolve their internal contradictions. Thus, there exists a continued need for capital and the state to resolve the contradictions between the consumer and citizen, modern and postmodern, leisure and harm, private sector income and public service provision, local markets and global products, individual harm and community benefit. Given this dialectical relationship between state and industry, and the level of dependency its development has engendered, we may expect the continued expansion of EGM gambling spaces as long as capital accumulation is the key goal in the neoliberal economy of Australia.

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