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.


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One Comment

  1. Marilyn Lancelot

    Gripped by Gambling. Sure, everyone loves to gamble . . . if they win. But, the person sitting next to you in church, the man in line at the grocery store, or one of your co-workers; any one of these could be involved with a gambling problem. Imagine your grandmother committing a crime to support her gambling addiction. I published a book, Gripped by Gambling, where the readers can follow the destructive path of the compulsive gambler, a prison sentence, and then on to the recovery road. I am in the process of publishing another book, Detour, available February 15th. Here the reader can follow my path of determination, discipline, and dedication to a new life of recovery. The challenges we face in our lives will eventually lead us to recovery and to unimaginable serenity and joy. These books would be valuable additions to everyone’s library.

    I also publish a newsletter, Women Helping Women, which has been on-line for more than fourteen years and is read by thousands of women (and men) from around the world. (www.femalegamblers.info). I have been interviewed many times to share my story, and appeared on PBS and the 60 Minutes show in January 2011.


    Marilyn Lancelot

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