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.
Bibliographical noteFunding 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.
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- mutual aid
- political economy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations