International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1151–1176 | Cite as

Critiquing the Reno Model I-IV International Influence on Regulators and Governments (2004–2015)— the Distorted Reality of “Responsible Gambling”

  • Linda HancockEmail author
  • Garry Smith
Original Article


This article critically examines the Reno Model responsible gambling undertaking: its evolution, core ideological beliefs and promotion in four internationally influential journal articles, published between 2004 and 2015. This discourse has framed the international RG policy landscape for over a decade; emphasising individualised responsibility for harms and providing governments with justifications for compromised RG regulation. Axioms of the Reno Model are individual responsibility, framed as personal control and autonomy for informed choice and a focus on problem gamblers who manifest clinical symptoms of impaired control. Drawing on corporate political activity (CPA) analysis, regulatory-avoidance framing strategies of the gambling industry include shaping the evidence base, policy substitution (voluntary industry operator codes of conduct and problem gambler treatment programs) and assertions of insufficient evidence for introducing reforms. Barriers to ethical RG standards include deception and exploitation, faulty regulation and grim working conditions in gambling environments, along with Reno Model adherents’ dismissal of contradictory evidence. The critique proposes a shift in the dominant regulatory Model from industry self-regulation under self-monitored codes of practice to RG-Consumer Protection that addresses structural issues of power and vested interests, featuring core principles of public health, consumer protection, operator duty of care, regulatory transparency and independent research.


Reno Model Gambling regulation Public health Responsible gambling movement Framing Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) theory Corporate Political Activity (CPA) theory 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no potential or actual conflicts of interest related to this publication or the research upon which it is based.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and GlobalisationDeakin UniversityVictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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