Gambling is a popular and widespread recreational activity that can have positive as well as negative consequences. Although some people experience gambling as an enjoyable pastime, for others it can harm their health and wellbeing, damage relationships with friends and family, affect work or study performance, cause financial hardship, lead to criminal activity or even result in death. There is growing consensus that gambling is a public health issue that requires action to reduce its prevalence and mitigate the harms associated with it.

Gambling has been framed through a number of perspectives, but is predominantly understood as a psychologically based phenomenon linked to addiction and irrational behaviour. Increasingly, however, research and policy approaches to gambling are being developed using social practice theory approaches which are more holistic and consider the role of a range of forces that shape gambling and its risks.

One important aspect of gambling that can be explored through a practice theory lens is its materiality. This is because gambling involves a range of materials including money and chips, mobile phones and apps, machines and technologies, cards, and rules and guides. The use of these materials helps to shape and define the meanings and purposes of gambling practices as well as the nature of the risks involved.

A further aspect of gambling that can be explored through s practice theory perspective is its temporality. This is because practices are often woven together in ‘bundles’ of activities that form part of daily routines and that occur at particular times of the day or week. For example, gambling may be a regular activity that is performed in conjunction with drinking alcohol, watching television, eating, and other socialising activities.