Välkommen till Score!

Reproducing Responsible Gambling through Codes of Conduct

Abstract: Why, since the emergence of the online gambling industry, have trade associations continually sought to develop responsible gambling codes of conduct despite the industry actively seeking state regulation in order to legitimate its activities? This paper addresses this puzzle by documenting online gambling trade associations’ development and deployment of responsible gambling codes of conduct. I trace these activities from the emergence of the industry in the early 1990s, and through processes of increased market liberalisation at the national level and market integration at the European Union level. I argue that during the early years of the industry, responsible gambling codes of conduct where used as a means by which trade associations sought to enhance the legitimacy and ensure the survival of a contested industry through the development of an ‘industry morality’. However, trade associations also play an important intermediary and political role by attempting to shape the external regulatory environment in which their members operate. I argue that, as processes of market liberalisation and integration intensified, online gambling trade associations deployed responsible gambling codes of conduct at particular moments of opportunity principally to shape their members’ external environment. Here, codes of conduct are used ‘to shape’ how we understand gambling through maintaining the tropes of ‘responsible gambling’ and ‘problem gambling’. These tropes affirm values of individual choice and responsibility, whilst emphasising regulation through education and limited intervention on the supply of gambling products. As such, this paper contends that codes of conduct are a key resource used by trade associations to construct, reproduce and embed a particular understanding of gambling in the multilevel regulatory environment in which their members operate.