The Value of Gambling and Its Research

Professor Pauliina Raento writes about gambling research in his introduction to our article published in the latest Suomen Antropologi: Journal of Finnish Anthropological Society.
Gambling today is a multi-billion-dollar industry with global influence. It is a prominent part of culture and a major financial contributor to society in Finland and many other countries where governments own, license and regulate gambling enterprises. Most people in Western societies have some experience of gambling, and many buy a lottery ticket, play slot machines, or bet on sports as a regular part of their leisure. Over the past decades the gambling industry has grown massively, due to its entry into new territories, the increased popularity of gambling, and new globally influential innovations, such as televised poker tournaments and online gambling. The political, economic and cultural implications of this change have been notable. Gambling scholarship is on the rise and its foci are broadening especially in the social sciences and cultural studies.

The time is ripe for anthropologists to take a fresh look at gambling. This would have multiple benefits. For one, a look at new, popular forms of gambling would flush out some disciplinary stubbornness regarding topics and approaches. From the past, distant and primitive the emphasis should continue to shift even more strongly toward what is new and happening here and now. The study of online poker, says Jukka Jouhki in this Forum, offers one opportunity to bring anthropologists up to speed with understanding recent technological developments, and cultural forms that have sprung up with them. After all, more people now log on to online gambling sites than to Facebook (Gambling Online Magazine October 26th, 2010). Ethnography, one powerful tool of anthropology, should be expanded to online environments. More stimulating methodological ponderings and innovation will inevitably follow.
Read the whole article here including the following texts:

Raento, Pauliina: The Value of Gambling and Its Research. Introduction.
Jouhki, Jukka: Writing against Culture with Online Poker.
Kinnunen, Jani: The Social Rewards of Online Gambling.
Matilainen, Riitta: Gambling and Consumption. The Hidden Values of Historical Perspectives.