Natasha Dow Schüll is an anthropologist who spent 15 years studying machine gambling in Las Vegas. Her resulting book is a close examination of the people, the machines and the several contexts that interact to produce gambling addiction. The idea that a machine’s design interacts with a user (not one or the other but both) is a core theme. The book is something of a page turner, full of deeply human insights into the people she met whose lives have fallen prey to addiction.
There is a growing awareness both in and beyond academia that the design of gambling machines is crucial to understanding addiction. The book is highly recommended. For a good overview, watch her lecture:
Good article in The Guardian. Click here to see full piece.
Men of my age often feel trapped between one group of people telling us to “man up” and another suggesting that our plight is less grave than that of others. Indeed, many will probably shrug when they learn that a new study suggests that a quarter of men between 18 and 24 have a gambling problem. Yet it does not take a genius to see a link between gambling and millennial males’ current place in society. We are a group lacking hope – and gambling is just one symptom.
My demographic is gambling for a number of reasons – some of them innocent – but economics and mental health are crucial. Of course, the cause of minority groups are generally more pressing than that of millennial men – we should not feel uneasy about asking not to be forgotten, while advocating other progressive issues. It is coherent to champion both.
Pioneering books such as The Pinch and Jilted Generation show that, generationally speaking, our prospects are being damaged by a toxic mix of debt, unemployment, demographic factors, globalisation and rising house prices. But as a gender, young males’ mental wellbeing is quietly in crisis. We can over-politicise gambling but, as it becomes increasingly normalised, it can appear an easy, supposedly masculine escape – one that’s advertised wall-to-wall during sport on TV.
Great to be able to offer the world our new site. It’s a very close look at Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. We see this as a case study for learning about politics, industry, psychology and much more. Plus, of course, there’s lots of controversial conflict around the machines that can be found in evry high street, and are often referred to as ‘the crack cocaine’ of gambling.