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A Cultural History of Chinese Gambling I (From Ancient Period to Yuan Dynasty)

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The Psychology of Chinese Gambling


China is a land of diverse cultures and peoples. Kiang Fan in his book The Gambling Chinese (好賭的中國人) has argued that gambling in China began as Chinese civilization began. While contemporary academics from the United States and Australia define gambling as “risking something of value on the unknown outcome of some future event…, the ultimate hope of gambling is to realize a value greater than that risked” (Aasved 2003, p. 3), the Chinese conception of gambling carries a behavioral connotation much more than wagering. The Chinese words for gambling are“賭”and “博.” These two words “gambling in the Chinese way means wagering in a risky fashion.” The ancient word for gambling in Chinese is “簙.” This word means playing a chess game together with others. On this particular word, Shuowen Jiezi (說文解字), the earliest Chinese dictionary compiled by Xu Shen (許慎, 58–147) in the Han Dynasty, has this description – “Gambling is a table game: it is a game with six sticks and twelve chesses (簙,局戲也。六箸十二棋也).”

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Chan, C.C., Li, W.W.L., Chiu, A.S.L. (2019). A Cultural History of Chinese Gambling I (From Ancient Period to Yuan Dynasty). In: The Psychology of Chinese Gambling. Springer, Singapore.

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