What is gambling?

By Kenny Sui-Fung Yim


For more than five years, Chien-Chi Huang served as the lead consultant of the Asian Initiative arm of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling (MCCG). She was the resident expert on gambling among the local Asian population.

Image courtesy of Flickr user shoe the Linux Librarian.

Image courtesy of Flickr user shoe the Linux Librarian.

Huang said compulsive gambling is defined as putting valuable assets into insecure activities; in other words, playing with money. The wording is important, because if she were to ask Chinese male seniors whether they have ever gambled, they would say no. However, if she were to change the wording slightly by asking if they had ever played mah jong, they would say yes.

There is a big difference between playing games with your family and friends occasionally as recreation — without putting valuable assets at risk — and taking out large sums of money for gaming.

Here are three simple methods to check if you have a problem gambling.

1. Most people gamble recreationally, and when they do so, they keep control of their valuables, time and energy. They are aware they are just playing for fun. On the other hand, those who are compulsive gamblers have no control of valuables, time and energy. The MCCG has a self-test, which anyone can use to assess whether you have a sufficient grasp of your behavior, at www.masscompulsivegambling.org.

2. Another simple method of checking is lie and bet screening. The “lie” section asks whether you lie to people close to you about your behavior; the “bet” section will ask whether you feel the need to keep betting more.

3. To see if you are a compulsive gambler, look beyond your family. If acquaintances ask you to spend less time gambling, you likely have a problem.


This post is also available in: Chinese

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