Critical perspectives research led teaching

A Full House: Developing a New Socio-Legal Theory of Global Gambling Regulation

Kate Bedford

Studies of gambling law reform provide insights for policymakers and academics concerned with the regulation of risk and speculation. Previous studies of gambling law and political economy have typically taken casinos and lotteries as the key research sites. This project seeks to make a substantial contribution to debates about gambling and the regulation of speculation by using a different lens: bingo.

Bingo is a markedly under-researched site, attracting a fraction of the attention given to casinos. However it is a globally significant and profitable gambling form, played in many countries and increasingly popular online. As a key site for working class women's gambling, bingo reveals the resilience of gendered and class-based gambling cultures: in the UK commercial bingo halls outnumber casinos by a factor of five. Bingo is also enmeshed with law and political economy in distinctive ways. For example it is a key site for charity fundraising in many jurisdictions, and even when played commercially it is associated with community and social welfare more often than with gambling. Two pilot studies have revealed that this legal and social position, at the intersection of risk and welfare, poses significant challenges for regulators, and raises important questions about how the governance of speculation is related to concerns about social cohesion and non-profit activity. The proposed research will address those regulatory challenges, and provide answers to those key questions. 

Using four case studies of bingo regulation (England and Wales; Canada; Brazil; and online play offered to residents of EU countries), the research aims to achieve two objectives:

1. provide a systematic account of how bingo is regulated, to ascertain the key legal and policy challenges involved, and to make recommendations to policymakers, the gambling industry, third sector stakeholders, and academics;
2. advance knowledge of a key site in global gambling liberalization debates, one which allows us to explore how the governance of risk and speculation are gendered, and related to concerns about charity and welfare.

The project will get underway in September 2013, but please get in touch now if you would like to know more. The principal researcher is Dr Kate Bedford of Kent Law School and can be contacted at

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Last Updated: 10/08/2015