Second Order Networks, Gambling, and Corruption on Indian Mobile Phone Networks
Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 32, No. 5, pp. 768-83
16 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2016 Last revised: 16 Aug 2016
Date Written: July 1, 2015
This article explores unintended effects of recent growth in India’s mobile phone network. Using a case study of the Indian Premier League (IPL) – a popular cricket league that has encouraged mobile phone usage among fans – this article argues that India’s large and inclusive mobile phone networks have enabled significant new gambling and corruption. The spatial possibilities of mobile networks have led to new organizational forms in gambling and corruption, with small-scale local activity increasingly supplanted by organized syndicates located in Mumbai and Dubai. Based on interviews with mobile phone users and participants in betting rings, this article shows that the IPL mobile network enables second-order networks of criminal activity by making it easier to administer illegal action and easier to escape detection. This article emphasizes three ways that mobile networks facilitate gambling. First, their functionality, portability, and near-universality allow for new flows of information and capital. Second, mobile networks allow for new scale and new organizational forms, allowing a shift from local bookies to national and international syndicates. Third, mobile networks have dramatically enlarged the gambling sector in India. These changes have helped turn cricket gambling into a global industry with India at its center.
Keywords: gambling, India, mobile communications, network effects, network theory, sports
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