Policy and reality: Corporate social responsibility in the UK gambling industry

Abstract

This article considers the corporate social responsibility of firms dealing in what could be regarded as "unethical" products, and then addresses the gambling industry in the UK. A brief history reveals that this is now dominated by large firms, who issue careful and regular pronouncements about their social responsibilities. They all make donations to charity, including those which help the problem gambler. There are over one quarter of a million such people in the UK, and the impact of their addiction impacts upon many more. The article contains a case study which interviews the staff in one outlet owned by a major chain and those who work in an independent betting shop. They are questioned about corporate social responsibility in the gambling industry and the statements of their employers, and the policies used to kelp those with gambling problems. The results suggest while the firms appear to take their responsibilities very seriously, some staff were sceptical about this. Moreover, it would appear that the informal approaches used by the independent trader to deter a heavy loser might be more successful than the formal systems of the big groups. This idea was tested by interviewing the managers of a selection of betting shops, and again, there were doubts about the effectiveness of the policies adopted by the management in the large chains. As problem gambling is the cause of much domestic grief, this is an issue which should be addressed. Further research is recommended to investigate the most effective ways of addressing the problem.

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