The Nexus of Practices


The act of betting something of value, such as money or material possessions, on an uncertain outcome. Gambling can be done through games of chance, such as a roll of the dice or the spin of a roulette wheel, as well as those that require skill, such as card playing or horse racing (see also risk taking). The element of uncertainty is a central feature of gambling and is what gives it its appeal; for example, the thrill of knowing that your next move could win you a jackpot or the rush from anticipating a sudden change in fortune in a slot machine game or lottery draw.

Gambling is often a form of entertainment or fun for individuals and can be a way to socialise with friends, although it can become problematic when it starts to interfere with work, family and other life activities. There is a wide range of legal regulations and harm reduction strategies that are designed to protect people from gambling-related problems. These can include limiting the availability of gambling, setting betting limits, prohibiting advertising, and providing counselling services for problem gamblers.

A large proportion of gambling-related research focuses on individual behaviour and addiction, with an increasing number of studies considering the wider socio-cultural, economic and regulatory influences that shape gambling behaviour. However, this work is nascent and needs to be broadened in its approach and scope. A nexus of practices perspective offers a valuable framework to consider the ways in which gambling is embedded within and woven into broader practice bundles such as socialising, drinking, and enjoying sport. It can help us to understand how these factors may influence gambling-related behaviour and provide a basis for developing more effective harm reduction strategies.

Individual characteristics associated with regular gambling across the 17-24 years are largely consistent with those found in the literature, with recognised correlations with low IQ, hyperactivity and impulsivity, sensation seeking, and external locus of control. In addition, participants who were lost to follow-up at age 24 were more likely to be male, live in deprived social circumstances and have mothers with lower educational qualifications. Multiple imputation techniques were used to reduce the impact of missing data on the final analyses, but the results are likely to underestimate the prevalence of gambling in the sample. The findings highlight the need for interventions that are more widely available to young people. The CUCRC can help students, staff and faculty explore their relationship with gambling and connect them with support resources. They can do so by scheduling a screening or visiting during a Let’s Talk session on AcademicLiveCare. The service is free and accessible to all CU Boulder students, staff and faculty.