Responsible Gambling – A Scoping Review

Responsible Gambling – A Scoping Review

By IAGR Media

Are regulators winning with the responsible gambling approach?

For those involved in regulating the gambling industry two key questions are usually front 

of mind. Firstly, what levers should regulators use and secondly whose behaviour should 

be targeted.  


The current dominant paradigm of gambling regulation is the Responsible Gambling 

approach. The responsible gambling approach provides a framework for responsible 

gambling policies and practices to be designed to prevent and reduce potential harms 

associated with gambling. This approach focuses in the public health domain with 

regulators using levers that mediate the negative impacts of the industry while focusing 

the same levers on the behaviour of consumers.   


As a governance framework for the regulation of gambling what are the strengths and 

weaknesses of the reasonable gambling approach and where does the future lie for the 

industry? These questions can only be answered through the assistance of effective and 

targeted research. A recent scoping review published by researchers from Concordia 

University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and published in  Critical Gambling 

, has investigated these issues. 


Responsible Gambling: A Scoping Review (2020) investigates both the articulation and 

critique of the concept of responsible gambling in academic literature. It provides a good 

starting point for reviewing the current evidence base on responsible gambling. 


The scoping review notes while gambling has a strong history, gambling markets have 

quickly evolved over the past 35 years. This increase in the size of the industry has 

delivered a tax windfall to many governments, while concurrently creating a regulatory 

burden. Public pressure has risen for both government and operators to protect 

communities from the harm associated with gambling.   


According to the researchers, the responsible gambling model has been developed 

academically through research known as the Reno Model I-V. This model has sought to 

place a framework around gambling that guides those governing gambling to be socially 

responsible in their operations, while enabling personal freedom and personal choice to be 



According to the Scoping Review the success of the Reno Model has been debated, 

however, the one thing that is agreed upon is further intra and cross-disciplinary research 

of it is required. The researchers’ note existing research has focused very strongly within 

disciplines, while additionally it has focused on descriptive analysis rather than critical analysis.   


A recommendation from the researchers’ and the key finding of the study is that further 

studies critically analysing the impact of responsible gambling interventions and regulation 

would be of great benefit to the academic knowledge bank on problem gambling. It would 

also assist regulators in answering their two key questions, and fine tuning the levers used 

to regulate and whose actions they are targeted. 


The full scoping review can be found here




Jennifer Reynolds - Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University 

Sylvia Kairouz - Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University

Samantha Ilacqua - Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University 

Martin French - Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University 


Reynolds J., KairouzS., IlacquaS., & FrenchM. (2020). Responsible Gambling: A Scoping 

Review. Critical Gambling Studies, 1(1), 23-39. Retrieved from 



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