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Platform gambling and the redistribution of wealth in the land-based betting industry : a critical realist case study

Wheaton, JJ


JJ Wheaton



This qualitative study critically evaluates the development of platform gambling – the network of fixed odds betting terminals, self-service betting terminals and online gambling – within the United Kingdom’s land-based betting industry. The study specifically explores if platform gambling can be perceived as exacerbating the view that the industry relocates capital to its owners. The study’s Marxist, theoretical lens through which data are analysed consists of class antagonisms between the owners of betting shops and their customers and employees, whilst adopting platform capitalism as an extension of Marxism.

In accordance with a Critical Realist methodological approach, themes which were explicated from semi-structured interviews with thirty-five shop owners, customers and employees were firstly aggregated according to analytical generalisations, demonstrating the emergence of two mechanisms of platform gambling: the productivity of data and the omnipresence of platform gambling. These mechanisms were then theoretically redescribed through the theoretical lens, exploring how they interact to produce the industry’s class antagonisms. Finally, the study retroductively analysed emergent data to objectively explore the structure brought about by the development of platform gambling within betting shops. The structure’s key mechanism, the productivity of platform gambling, allows owners to deploy the situational and structural characteristics of platform gambling, alongside shop loyalty schemes, in order to co-ordinate shop and immaterial labour towards profitability. The retroductive structure was also contextualised against an external stratification of Marxist ontology, confirming the relationship between Marxism and the development of platform gambling.

The study consequently makes three theoretical contributions. Firstly, it contributes a Marxist understanding of the land-based industry whilst also demonstrating a perceived, detrimental socio-economic impact brought by an information system. Secondly, platform gambling is understood through the perceived affordances offered to its owners by its primary commodity, data. The study thirdly contributes a Critical Realist analysis of perceptions from within the land-based industry.


Wheaton, J. Platform gambling and the redistribution of wealth in the land-based betting industry : a critical realist case study. (Thesis). University of Salford

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 5, 2021
Publicly Available Date Aug 5, 2021
Award Date May 1, 2021


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