Ambiguity and Abjection: Residents’ Reactions to a New Urban Casino




casino, city image, city identity, city residents, gambling, place-belongingness


While the social and economic costs and benefits of new gambling locations have been studied extensively, less is known about how new venues are experienced in view of city residents’ spatial and sociocultural identities. This study examines residents’ opinions and expectations on a new small-scale casino in the City of Tampere, Finland, as a case of new gambling opportunities in an urban setting. Nine focus group interviews were conducted with 43 Tampere residents three years prior to the scheduled casino opening. The study points out ways in which the residents struggled conceptually with the casino project. When speaking about it, participants drew on an imagery of popular culture, drawing a sharp line between casino gambling and the everyday convenience gambling so omnipresent in Finnish society. As residents of a historical industrial urban region, the participants positioned themselves as critical towards the municipality’s aims to brand the venue in a larger experience economy entity. By drawing on the concepts of city image and city identity, the study is able to demonstrate that the cultural geographical intrusion of new physical gambling spaces can appear as harmful to the city character. In the studied case, this is likely to hamper the City of Tampere’s chances to prevail on the very same experience market, of which the new casino is part.

Author Biographies

Paula Piritta Jääskeläinen, University of Helsinki

Paula Jääskeläinen is a PhD student at the University of Helsinki Research Centre for Addiction, Control, and Governance (CEACG). Her study focuses on the forthcoming Tampere casino and its social, economic, and cultural implications. In her work, she combines perspectives from gambling studies and urban sociology.

Michael Egerer, University of Helsinki

Michael Egerer is a University Researcher at the University of Helsinki Research Centre for Addiction, Control, and Governance (CEACG). His research interests address gambling, gambling regulations, and the concept of addiction. While mastering a wide selection of methodologies, Egerer is an expert in the focus group technique. Currently, he is a board member of the Finnish Association for Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Research. With Virve Marionneau and Janne Nikkinen, Egerer edited the book Gambling Policies in European Welfare States, which was published by Palgrave in August 2018.

Matilda Hellman, University of Helsinki

Matilda Hellman is head of the CEACG group. She is an internationally recognized sociologist of lifestyles and addictions. Hellman has published extensively and has successfully managed and coordinated several international studies. Hellman holds many academic positions of trust and has developed qualitative and quantitative tools for cross-country comparisons. In 2018–2019, she was a guest scholar at the Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard University.




How to Cite

Jääskeläinen, P. P., Egerer, M., & Hellman, M. (2021). Ambiguity and Abjection: Residents’ Reactions to a New Urban Casino. Critical Gambling Studies, 2(1), 87–96.