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“It’s Not Officially Gambling”: Gambling Perceptions and Behaviors Among Older Chinese Immigrants


Personal and media accounts have suggested that Chinese communities engage in high rates of gambling, which is reflected in the fact that casinos are specifically targeting Chinese communities through advertisements and promotions. However, not much is actually known about older Chinese immigrants’ experiences and perceptions of gambling in the U.S. This study seeks to explore how older Chinese immigrants define and describe gambling and their own gambling behaviors. Thematic analysis was used to identify major themes across in-depth interviews of 25 older Chinese immigrants living in New York City. Our analysis identified three avenues in defining gambling. First, they differentiated “gambling” from “playing.” Second, they equated “gambling” with “problem gambling.” Last, they associated “gambling” with major losses. In describing their own motivations for gambling and playing, participants indicated that there were many positive reasons for playing. The analyses revealed four themes under which participants described their motivations: gambling as a coping strategy; gambling as a form of socialization; gambling to improve health; and gambling to prove their luck or skill. Identifying older Chinese immigrants’ perceptions and motivations around gambling can better equip us to address their needs.

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The authors would like to thank Min Yi Kuang, Sofia Liu Qin, Jiayin Wu, Emilee Yang, Shu Min Yu, and Zongpu Yue for their assistance in interviewing participant, transcribing the audiofiles, and translation of transcriptions. We are deeply grateful to all the older Chinese immigrants who participated in the study.



This study was partially funded by Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation that was awarded to second author.

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Correspondence to Wooksoo Kim.

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Keovisai, M., Kim, W. “It’s Not Officially Gambling”: Gambling Perceptions and Behaviors Among Older Chinese Immigrants. J Gambl Stud 35, 1317–1330 (2019).

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