This paper attempts to investigate how and why organisations in Macao’s gambling industry engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). It is based on an in-depth investigation of Macao’s gambling industry with 49 semi-structured interviews, conducted in 2011. We found that firms within the industry were emphasising pragmatic legitimacy based on both economic and non-economic contributions, in order to project positive images of the industry, while glossing over two domains of adverse externalities: problem gambling among visitors, and the pollution and despoliation of the environment. By engaging symbolically rather than substantively in CSR, the gambling firms were diverting attention away from issues of moral legitimacy, in order to be allowed to continue to pursue “business as usual” as a means of obtaining substantial financial returns in a social, cultural and socio-political context that was exerting relatively little public pressure to improve corporate social and environmental performance. We conjecture that the gambling firms were feeding on borrowed time.
- Controversial industries
- Corporate social responsibility
- Responsible gambling