Gambling as exchange: Horserace betting in London

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to contribute to the growing body of research which uses qualitative approaches to investigate gambling as it occurs within particular networks or social milieu. Using data gathered in betting shops in London between 2006 and 2009 the paper presents gambling as exchange and gamblers as fractal persons. This approach is used to explore changes in the meanings attributed to gambling by betting shop staff and customers under various regulatory conditions. Research participants portrayed betting that took place on the street with illegal bookmakers before 1961 as a form of circulation within their community and contrasted this with betting in licensed offices as an extractive process. The paper contributes to a more general discussion about the use of long term participant observation to study gambling as a social process. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the growing body of research which uses qualitative approaches to investigate gambling as it occurs within particular networks or social milieu. Using data gathered in betting shops in London between 2006 and 2009 the paper presents gambling as exchange and gamblers as fractal persons. This approach is used to explore changes in the meanings attributed to gambling by betting shop staff and customers under various regulatory conditions. Research participants portrayed betting that took place on the street with illegal bookmakers before 1961 as a form of circulation within their community and contrasted this with betting in licensed offices as an extractive process. The paper contributes to a more general discussion about the use of long term participant observation to study gambling as a social process.

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