Gambling in the Iranian-American Community and an Assessment of Motives: A Case Study

  • Iman Parhami
  • Aaron Siani
  • Michael D. Campos
  • Richard J. Rosenthal
  • Timothy W. Fong
  • UCLA Gambling Studies Program


Nearly half a million United States residents identify themselves as being of Iranian origin, and many in this population are of high socioeconomic status. Although games of chance have been a notable part of Iranian culture for thousands of years, there is almost no research exploring gambling in this population. The objective of this case study is to explore gambling pathology, gambling behavior, and gambling motives among Iranian-Americans using a convenience sample (N = 182) at a September 2010 Iranian festival in Southern California. Of this sample, 20% (n = 37) and 7% (n = 13) screened positive for problem and pathological gambling, respectively. According to the Gambling Motives Questionnaire, enhancement was the preferred motive for gambling (“because you like the feeling, because it’s exciting, to get a high feeling, because it’s fun, because it makes you feel good”). Pathological gamblers showed a considerable difference in subscale scores between enhancement and either coping or social motives, and problem gamblers showed a considerable difference between enhancement and coping motives. Possible explanations for the higher prevalence of gambling disorders in this sample are discussed. Our results support the notion that underlying cultural factors play a role in the development of gambling disorders.


Iranian Gambling Gambling motives questionnaire Ethnicity Culture 



This project was funded partially by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant #: K23DA 19522-2), the California Office of Problem Gambling, and the Annenberg Foundation. Other than two authors (IP and AS) reporting Iranian ancestry, the authors are not aware of any affiliations, members, funding, or financial holdings that might be perceived as affecting the objectivity of this project or providing conflict of interest. The authors thank the Network of Iranian-American Professionals of Orange County for allowing data to be collected at Mehregan 2010 and thank Dr. Minoo Shilati and the Iranian-American Jewish Federation for providing an opportunity to test the feasibility of this study’s questionnaire. Lastly, the authors are especially grateful for Professor Mehdi Bozorgmehr’s constructive comments on a previous version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iman Parhami
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aaron Siani
    • 3
  • Michael D. Campos
    • 2
  • Richard J. Rosenthal
    • 2
  • Timothy W. Fong
    • 2
    • 3
  • UCLA Gambling Studies Program
  1. 1.UCLA Gambling Studies ProgramLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUniversity of California—Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of California—Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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