Gambling and political economy, revisited

Kate Bedford*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gambling is central to our understanding of political economy, but the dominant story told about gambling within our subfield is highly partial. It focuses on globally spectacular forms and places of gambling, especially casinos. It tends to associate gambling with neo-liberal formulations of political economy. And it tends to fixate on men’s play. In this article, I seek to show the value of an alternative lens on gambling and political economy, provided by the game of bingo. I hereby aim to improve our academic accounts of gambling, such that they take better account of everyday games, and of capitalism, such that they are better attuned to its heterogeneity and its regulatory interactions with other, more-than-capitalist economies. Relying on historical law and policy debates about bingo in the UK, I make two arguments. Firstly, I tell a new story about gambling and political economy, by excavating a crucial mutual aid dimension to gambling liberalisation debates in the 1950s and 60s, and showing how that dimension fared under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government (1979–90). Secondly, I use bingo as an entry point to a different way of conceptualising political economy, where the state regulation of diverse economies is a central preoccupation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-260
Number of pages11
JournalNew Political Economy
Issue number2
Early online date23 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council, Grant no.ES/J02385X/1, A Full House: Developing A New Socio-Legal Theory of Global Gambling Regulation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Gambling
  • mutual aid
  • political economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Gambling and political economy, revisited'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this