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Mahjong and Problem Gambling in Sydney: An Exploratory Study with Chinese Australians

Wu Yi Zheng, Michael Walker, Alex Blaszczynski


Gambling is accepted as an integral part of Chinese cultural heritage. Epidemiological and clinical studies indicate that problem gambling rates among Chinese community members residing in Western countries are substantially higher (2.1-2.9%) compared with those reported for mainstream populations (0.5-1.7%). However, these studies failed to differentiate culturally specific forms of gambling and their association with problem gambling within Chinese samples. Thus, it is not possible to determine if, or what proportion of, Chinese problem gamblers exhibit a propensity to experience problems with culturally specific, as opposed to mainstream, forms of gambling. Mahjong, a popular game deeply entrenched in Chinese tradition, is played among peers and family members. In a recent study conducted by Zheng, Walker, and Blaszczynski (2008), high rates of Mahjong-associated problem gambling were found in a sample of Chinese international students attending language schools and universities in Sydney, Australia. The aim of the current study was to explore the extent of Mahjong-associated problem gambling in a broader community sample of Chinese Australians. Results showed that in a sample of 229 respondents, males and those 35 years or older were more likely to gamble on Mahjong and that 3.1% met the Canadian Problem Gambling Severity Index criteria for Mahjong problem gambling.

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