Framing public policy towards a public health paradigm for gambling

Abstract

This paper examines the public policy value of looking at gambling from a public health perspective. The manner in which social issues are framed will either expand or curtail public policy debates. The existing and traditional frames for gambling (e.g. gambling as a matter of individual freedom, gambling as a form of recreation) fail to consider research on the social and economic impacts of gambling. Because a public health frame offers a broad viewpoint of society, it encompasses a number of social and economic impacts not considered in traditional frames. However, the existing gambling frames enjoy varying degrees of cultural, economic, and political support and, as a result, creating a higher profile for a public health framework will encounter a number of barriers. Research can play a decisive role in overcoming these barriers, as it has in a number of related fields (e.g., tobacco use, addiction and product liability, the epidemiology of AIDS). The paper concludes that research that identifies and quantifies the public health factors of gambling will substantially contribute to a public shift toward a public health frame.

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