The politics and fantasy of the gambling education discourse: An analysis of gambling industry-funded youth education programmes in the United Kingdom.
SSM - Population Health 2022 ; 18: 101122.
PubMed ID : 35637741
PMCID : PMC9142715
The provision of commercialised gambling products and services has changed radically in recent decades. Gambling is now provided in many places by multi-national corporations, with important implications for public health and policymaking. The United Kingdom is one of the most liberalised gambling markets globally, however there are few empirical analyses of gambling policy from a public health perspective. This study aims to provide a critical analysis of a core element of UK gambling policy, the provision of industry-funded youth gambling education programmes.
Adopting a commercial determinants of health lens, a discourse theoretical analysis was conducted using the logics of critical explanation. The data comprised resources provided by three gambling industry-funded charities (GambleAware, GamCare and the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust) and their partners.
The resources present a gambling education discourse that serves to reproduce the 'responsible gambling' agenda, while problematising children and young people. While the resources appear to offer educational content and opportunities for debate, the dominant focus is on teaching about personal responsibility and on the normalisation of gambling and gaming and their industries, while constraining the concept of agency. The resources encourage young people to act as individuals to control their impulses, and to correct what are portrayed as faulty cognitions with the aim of becoming responsible consumers. Our findings demonstrate how the gambling education discourse aligns with wider industry interests, serving to deflect from the harmful nature of the products and services they market while shifting responsibility for harm onto children, youth and their families.
Despite being delivered in the name of public health, the resources construct a discourse favourable to corporate interests. Educators, parents, policymakers, and others need to be empowered to address the conflicts of interest that exist in the delivery of gambling industry-funded resources. The promotion of such industry-favoured interventions should not be allowed to undermine efforts to implement regulations to prevent gambling harms.