Gambling in the Iranian-American community and an assessment of motives: A case study

Abstract

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.

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