Professor Rebecca Cassidy

Staff details

Position Professor
Department Anthropology
Email r.cassidy (
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7802
Professor Rebecca Cassidy

I'm currently working on a project about growing fruit, supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. In the past I have worked on horseracing, and gambling. I'm interested in multispecies relationships, political ecology, uncertainty, gender, kinship, class, inequality, public anthropology and policy.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD, Social Anthropology, Edinburgh University 1999
  • MPhil, Social Anthropology, Cambridge University 1995
  • BA Social Anthropology, Cambridge University 1994

Research interests

I’m interested in ideas about what is ‘natural’ and how they are curated, refined, reproduced, whether that is through the bodies and pedigrees of elite animals and fruits, or through ‘self-help’ leaflets for so-called ‘problem gamblers’. In my work I ask how particular ways of thinking about the world become powerful.

My most recent book, Vicious Games (Pluto 2020) explored the gambling industry's affinity with capitalism and is based on over a decade of fieldwork with gambling businesses around the world. I’ve also co-written a report about conflicts of interest in gambling research called Fair Game (2014). A lot of gambling research has focused on the consumption of gambling by individuals who are represented as vulnerable or flawed in some shared way. My approach has been to focus instead on the production of dangerous products and flawed policies by corporations and governments.

My work in gambling developed from my interest in horseracing. I’ve written two monographs, Sport of Kings (2002) and Horse People (2007), about thoroughbred breeding and racing in Newmarket and Kentucky. Using fieldwork on studs and race tracks I’ve shown how horseracing and thoroughbred breeding depend on inequalities of class and gender that are naturalised in the day to day lives of racehorses, stable workers, jockeys and trainers.

I’ve also edited collections of essays, with Molly Mullin, on the idea of domestication (Where the Wild Things are Now, 2007) with Claire Loussouarn and Andrea Pisac on new approaches to gambling research (Qualitative Research in Gambling, 2013) and about horseracing (Cassidy 2013).

Publications and research outputs


Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Horse People: thoroughbred culture in Lexington and Newmarket. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801887038

Cassidy, Rebecca and Mullin, M.. 2007. Where the wild things are now: Domestication reconsidered. Berg. ISBN 1845201531

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2002. Sport of Kings: kinship, class and thoroughbred breeding in Newmarket. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052100487X

Edited Book

Cassidy, Rebecca; Loussouarn, Claire and Pisac, Andrea, eds. 2013. Qualitative Research in Gambling: exploring the production and consumption of risk. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-65938-3

Cassidy, Rebecca, ed. 2013. Cambridge Companion to Horseracing. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107618367

Book Section

Cassidy, Rebecca and Hawkins, Ben. 2017. Interviewing key informants from the corporate sector. In: Kelley Lee and Benjamin Hawkins, eds. Researching Corporations and Global Health Governance: An Interdisciplinary Guide. London; New York: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 127-138. ISBN 9781783483600

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2016. How Corporations Shape our Understanding of Problems with Gambling and their Solutions. In: Nora Kenworthy; Ross MacKenzie and Kelley Lee, eds. Case Studies on Corporations and Global Health Governance Impacts, Influence and Accountability. London: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 9781783483570

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2013. Partial Convergence: Social Gaming and Real Money Gambling. In: Rebecca Cassidy; Claire Loussouarn and Andrea Pisac, eds. Qualitative Research in Gambling Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk. London: Routledge, pp. 74-91. ISBN 978-0-415-65938-3

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2013. Against the Odds A Professional Gambler’s Narrative of Achievement. In: , ed. The social life of achievement. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 43-60. ISBN 978-1-78238-220-1

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2013. Introduction to Cambridge Companion to Horseracing. In: , ed. Cambridge Companion to Horseracing. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-10. ISBN 9781107618367

Pisac, Andrea. 2013. ‘Croupiers’ sleight of mind: playing with unmanaged ‘spaces’ in the casino industry’. In: Andrea Pisac; Rebecca Cassidy and Claire Loussouarn, eds. Qualitative Research in Gambling: Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk. London & NY: Routledge, pp. 59-73. ISBN 978-0415659383

Pisac, Andrea. 2013. Introduction. In: Andrea Pisac; Rebecca Cassidy and Claire Loussouarn, eds. Qualitative Research in Gambling: Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk. London & NY: Routledge, pp. 1-11. ISBN 978-0415659383

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. 'Aborescent culture: writing and not writing racehorse pedigrees' in Kinship and Beyond: The Genealogical Model Reconsidered. Sandra Bamford and James Leach, eds. 2009. Berghahn Books, New York. In: Sandra Bamford and James Leach, eds. Kinship and Beyond: The Genealogical Model Reconsidered. 15 New York: Berghahn, pp. 24-49. ISBN 1845458966

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. Zoosex and other relationships with animals. In: Hastings Donnan and Fiona Magowan, eds. Transgressive Sex: subversion and control in erotic encounters. 13 Oxford and New York: Berghahn, pp. 91-112. ISBN 978-1-84545-539-2

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. 'Zoophilia reconsidered’ (Chapter 5. Zoosex and Other Relationships with Animals). In: Hastings Donnan and Fiona Magowan, eds. Transgressive sex. 13 Oxford: Berghahn Press. ISBN 978-1-84545-539-2

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2008. ‘Symbols and symbolism: animal’. In: John Middleton and Joseph C Miller, eds. New Encyclopaedia of Africa. Charles Scribner’s Sons. ISBN 978-0684314549

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. 'Le pur-sang dans la course, de Newmarket au Kentucky'. In: Daniel Roche; Daniel Reytier; Nicole de Blomac and Michel Constantini, eds. A cheval! Ecuyer, amazons & cavaliers. Association pour l'academie d'art equestre de Versailles. ISBN 978-2913018037


Newall, Philip W. S.; Cassidy, Rebecca; Walasek, Lukasz; Ludvig, Elliot A. and Meyer, Caroline. 2021. Who uses custom sports betting products? Addiction Research & Theory, 29(2), pp. 148-154. ISSN 1606-6359

Djohari, Natalie; Weston, Gavin; Cassidy, Rebecca and Kulas-Reid, Ivana. 2021. The visibility of gambling sponsorship in football related products marketed directly to children. Soccer & Society, 22(7), pp. 769-777. ISSN 1466-0970

McCarthy, Simone; Thomas, Samantha; Pitt, Hannah; Daube, Mike and Cassidy, Rebecca. 2020. ‘It's a tradition to go down to the pokies on your 18th birthday’ – the normalisation of gambling for young women in Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 44(5), pp. 376-381. ISSN 1326-0200

Wardle, Heather; Banks, James; Bebbington, Paul; Blank, Lindsey; Bowden Jones OBE, Henrietta; Bramley, Stephanie; Bunn, Christopher; Casey, Emma; Cassidy, Rebecca; Chamberlain, Samuel R; Close, James; Critchlow, Nathan; Dobbie, Fiona; Downs, Carolyn; Dymond, Simon; Fino, Emanuele; Goyder, Elizabeth; Gray, Cindy; Griffiths, Mark; Grindrod, Peter; Hogan, Lee; Hoon, Alice; Hunt, Kate; James, Richard; John, Bev; Manthorpe, Jill; McCambridge, Jim; McDaid, David; McKee, Martin; McManus, Sally; Moss, Antony; Norrie, Caroline; Nutt, David J; Orford, Jim; Pryce, Rob; Purves, Richard; Reith, Gerda; Roberts, Amanda; Roberts, Emmert; Roderique-Davies, Gareth; Rogers, Jim; Rogers, Robert D; Sharman, Stephen; Strang, John; Tunney, Richard; Turner, John; West, Robert and Zendle, David. 2020. Open letter from UK based academic scientists to the secretaries of state for digital, culture, media and sport and for health and social care regarding the need for independent funding for the prevention and treatment of gambling harms. British Medical Journal, 370, m2613. ISSN 1756-1833

Djohari, Natalie; Weston, Gavin; Cassidy, Rebecca; Wemyss, Martyn and Thomas, Samantha. 2019. Recall and awareness of gambling advertising and sponsorship in sport in the UK: a study of young people and adults. Harm Reduction Journal, 16(24), pp. 1-12.

McCarthy, Simone; Thomas, Samantha L.; Bellringer, Maria E. and Cassidy, Rebecca. 2019. Women and gambling-related harm: a narrative literature review and implications for research, policy, and practice. Harm Reduction Journal, 16(18),

Nyemcsok, Christian; Thomas, Samantha L.; Bestman, Amy; Pitt, Hannah; Daube, Mike and Cassidy, Rebecca. 2018. Young people’s recall and perceptions of gambling advertising and intentions to gamble on sport. Journal of Behavioural Addictions, 7(4), pp. 1068-1078. ISSN 2062-5871

Thomas, Samantha L.; Bestman, Amy; Pitt, Hannah; Cassidy, Rebecca; McCarthy, Simone; Nyemcsok, Christian; Cowlishaw, Sean and Daube, Mike. 2018. Young people’s awareness of the timing and placement of gambling advertising on traditional and social media platforms: a study of 11–16-year-olds in Australia. Harm Reduction Journal, 15(51), ISSN 1477-7517

Knai, C; Petticrew, M; Mays, N; Capewell, S; Cassidy, Rebecca; Cummins, S; Eastmure, E; Fafard, P; Hawkins, B and Jensen, J. 2018. Systems thinking as a framework for analysing commercial determinants of health. Milbank Quarterly, 96(3), pp. 472-498. ISSN 0887-378X,

Petticrew, M; Katikireddi, SV; Knai, C; Cassidy, R; Hessari, NM; Thomas, J and Weishaar, H. 2017. ‘Nothing can be done until everything is done’: the use of complexity arguments by food, beverage, alcohol and gambling industries. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 71, pp. 1078-1083. ISSN 0143-005X

Cassidy, Rebecca; Adams, Peter; Livingstone, Charles; Markham, Francis; Reith, Gerda; Rintoul, Angela; Schull, Natasha; Woolley, Richard and Young, Martin. 2017. On gambling research, social science, and the consequences of commercial gambling. International Gambling Studies, ISSN 1445-9795

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2014. Afterword: Manufacturing Gambling. Oceania, 84(3), pp. 306-314. ISSN 1834-4461

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2014. Fair game? Producing and publishing gambling research. International Gambling Studies, 14(3), pp. 345-353. ISSN 1445-9795

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2013. 'A place for men to come and do their thing': constructing masculinities in betting shops in London. British Journal of Sociology, 65(1), pp. 170-191. ISSN 0007-1315

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2012. Horse versus machine: battles in the betting shop. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 18(2), pp. 266-284. ISSN 1359-0987

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2012. Lives With Others: Climate Change and Human-Animal Relations. Annual Review of Anthropology, 41(1), pp. 21-36. ISSN 0084-6570

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2010. Gambling as exchange: horserace betting in London. International Gambling Studies, 10(2), pp. 139-149. ISSN 1445-9795

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. The horse, the Kyrgyz horse and the ‘Kyrgyz horse'. Anthropology Today, 25(1), pp. 12-15. ISSN 0268540X

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. ‘Casino capitalism’ and the financial crisis. Anthropology Today, 25(4), pp. 10-13. ISSN 0268540X

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. An anthropologist in the bookies. Newsletter of the Society for the Study of Gambling, 43,

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2008. 'Rethinking Cruelty'. Review of Just a Dog: understanding animal cruelty and ourselves, Arnold Arluke. Current Anthropology, 49(4), pp. 757-758. ISSN 00113204

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2008. Dolly mixtures: the remaking of genealogy – By Sarah Franklin. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 14(1), pp. 227-228.

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2008. Review of The Animals Reader: the essential classic and contemporary writings. Anthrozoos, 21, ISSN 0892-7936

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Blood "Bon sang me saurait mentir". Reproduction d'hommes et de chevaux Newmarket. Ethnologie Française, 37(2), pp. 233-242. ISSN 00462616

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Book Review: 'Gambling and survival in native North America' by Paul Pasquaretta. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 13(3), pp. 753-754. ISSN 1359-0987

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Zoosex. Stimulus Respond: for the urban anthropologist, 18, 083-092.

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2006. Book Review: 'I Want to Know about the Dogs'. Theory, Culture & Society, 23(7-8), pp. 324-328. ISSN 0263-2764

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2005. ‘Falling in love with horses: the international thoroughbred auction’. Society and Animals, 13(1), pp. 51-68. ISSN 1063-1119

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2004. ‘Where is racing going?’. National Equine Student, 1, pp. 16-19.

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2003. ‘Turf Wars: Arab dimensions to British racehorse breeding’. Anthropology Today, 19(3), pp. 13-18.

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2002. The Social Practice of Racehorse Breeding. Society and Animals, 10(2), pp. 155-171. ISSN 1063-1119

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2001. ‘On the human-animal boundary’. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 14(4), pp. 194-203. ISSN 0892-7936

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2000. Are all men equal on the turf and under it?’. Newsletter for the Society for the Study of Gambling, 34, pp. 13-20.


Cassidy, Rebecca and Ovenden, Niko. 2017. Frequency, duration and medium of advertisements for gambling and other risky products in commercial and public service broadcasts of English Premier League football.. Working Paper. SocArXiv

Cassidy, Rebecca; Loussouarn, Claire and Pisac, Andrea. 2014. Fair Game: producing gambling research. Project Report. European Research Council, Goldsmiths University of London.

Further profile content

Professional projects

My work on gambling has informed public debate about gambling policy in the UK and been widely reported in the media including The Daily Mail, Guardian, The New Statesman, The New York Times, Nature, and The New Scientist. Fair Game was referred to in the House of Commons briefing paper on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Findings from a paper on the volume, frequency and duration of gambling adverts during broadcasts of English Premier League football were quoted extensively by members during a debate about children and gambling in the House of Lords. The same paper was used by the Labour Party to launch a review of gambling and changes in policy including the creation of a mandatory levy to fund research and a ban on gambling advertising on footballer’s shirts.

Media engagements

2014: Interview, Thinking Allowed, BBC Radio 4
Interview about masculinity in betting shops

2013: Interview, Voice of Russia
Interview, Counting the cost of gambling

2002: Interview, Thinking Allowed, BBC Radio 4
Interview about horseracing

Conferences and talks

Grants and awards

2020: Fruitful lives: an anthropology of apples
Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship

2010: GAMSOC: gambling in Europe
ERC starting grant

Articles related to Professor Rebecca Cassidy