System comparisons expose patters of inequality

In a twist of fate French sociology student Sébastien Berret ended up conducting his PhD studies at the University of Helsinki. In our December edition of the Researcher of the Month series, Berret reveals how he found himself interested in gambling regulation policies – and moving from Paris to Pasila.

In his PhD work Berret is analyzing and comparing the lottery sector and its vested interests between Finnish, French and Hungarian gambling policy contexts.

– I look into how and why these systems are different, and what kind of underlying vested interests there are. The main objective is to define which kind of gambling contribution to society is the most redistributive.

Berret is also involved in the Political Economy of Gambling Academy project. The project focuses on the circulation of gambling revenues which benefits the public sector, operators and other beneficiaries through taxation, fees, direct contributions, by creating employment, and so on.

What is so interesting about this societal perspective on gambling?

– Gambling represents a significant challenge in contemporary societies, both in terms of the proceeds of gambling companies, and in terms of public health. I am especially interested in the effects that gambling policies have on state budgets as well as on people: how they gamble, and the level of addiction they might get. I have always been curious, and research on the topic offers an essential means of understanding the gambling policies and its underlying stakes.

International comparisons and social inequalities

Berret’s interest in gambling research lies especially in two dimensions of the field: international comparisons of the markets and their political and economical contexts, but also in the social inequalities related to this question:

– Generally, the share of a person’s budget spent on gambling increases, as the level of income decreases. Since frequent gambling practice and its consequences affect certain social groups more than others, problem gambling constitutes a socially differentiated phenomenon. The socio-economically weak are the ones who benefit the least from gambling provision and the use of the gambling surplus.

From Paris to Pasila

Berret started his work on gambling policies in 2016, while he was still a student at Paris Descartes University. He started an internship under the direction of CEACG-researcher Virve Marionneau, who at the time was a visiting researcher at the same place.

– The internship was a positive experience and it was decisive for my career path, because I accessed a new field of knowledge. I wanted to continue working on this topic

When the opportunity rose, Berret followed his former supervisor to work in Helsinki: first as a research assistant, then as a PhD student working on his own project.

– The university has given me the opportunity to conduct a PhD in Helsinki, and I am truly grateful for the confidence granted by my colleagues and my supervisors.

Red more of Berret’s work:

Berret, S. & Marionneau, V. (forthcoming) Les jeux de hasard et d’argent, une taxe régressive ? Les liens entre inégalités sociales, pratiques ludiques et exposition différentielle au jeu problématique en France. Under review in Sciences du Jeu.

Marionneau, V. & Berret, S. (2018). Gambling for the State: Collection and Redistribution of Gambling Proceeds in France. In Egerer, M., Marionneau, V. & Nikkinen, J. (Eds). Gambling Policies in European Welfare States: Current Challenges and Future Prospects. London: Palgrave Mac Millan.