Diffusion of an Economic Development Policy Innovation: Explaining the International Spread of Casino Gambling

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Social Science and Global Studies


This study uses an event history analysis to examine the factors that lead to the adoption of casino gambling among 13 nations around the world. Specifically, measures of fiscal stress, economic development, tourism, religiosity, and income levels are tested for their relationship to national decisions to legalize casino gambling. This study found that economic development needs, as measured by general unemployment rates, were associated with the casino legalization decisions of national governments. Higher unemployment rates were more likely in the years that nations legalized casino gambling. Religiosity, measured by frequency of church attendance, was also found to be a significant barrier in legalization decisions. Measures of fiscal stress, tourism, and income levels were not found to have significant relationships with the legalization decisions. This is interesting because these factors are often cited in case studies, media reports, and the statements of politicians during legalization processes. This study points to the need for further research in several areas. Further exploration of potential explanatory variables and more appropriate measures of currently theorized factors is warranted. Another area for further research is the seeming contradictory findings of multiple statistical analyses and multiple anecdotal findings of the impacts of fiscal stress on the casino legalization decision.

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Journal of Gambling Studies





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