Pathological Gambling, Gambling Disorder, and Problem Gambling Among the Chinese Ethnic Population Living in Western Countries: Is Culture a Sufficient Explanation for the Reported Excess Rates?

J Gambl Stud. 2021 Sep;37(3):927-945. doi: 10.1007/s10899-021-10012-7. Epub 2021 Feb 1.


A significant gap remains in the understanding of the psychosocial and cultural factors and processes in the development and maintenance of pathological gambling, gambling disorder, and problem gambling among the Chinese ethnic population living in the Western countries. This narrative reviews papers on gambling and pathological gambling among the Chinese ethnic group in Western countries to provide a deeper understanding of the cultural and psychosocial factors and processes that lead to the development and maintenance of pathological gambling, gambling disorder, and problem gambling. The factors leading to development of problem gambling, which also carry distinctive cultural differences, include acculturation process among Chinese migrants to western countries, their social learning patterns in gambling, the patterns and motivation seen in Chinese gamblers, their gambling-related cognitive bias and distortions as well as barriers to their help-seeking behaviours. The collectivistic oriental culture may explain for intrafamilial development of gambling behaviour and this strong male authority in the traditional Chinese family set-up also reinforces this influence. The Chinese culture is associated with increased risk-taking behaviour. Superstitious thinking is more prevalent in the Chinese culture and this can be manifested in individuals' perceptions of fate and luck. Future research projects studying pathological gambling and ethnic minorities in the UK should seek greater understanding and improved management of this condition in a small but highly relevant population.

Keywords: Chinese ethnic; Culture; Gambling disorder; Pathological gambling; Problem gambling; Western countries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Ethnicity
  • Gambling* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Superstitions