Pacific people living in New Zealand are less likely to participate in gambling activities than the general population but those who do gamble are at greater risk of being problem gamblers. This difference remains when socio-economic variables are controlled for. To date, little research has investigated the reasons underlying these differences. The present exploratory study investigated Pacific people's thoughts about gambling through a series of focus groups involving 97 participants, including Pacific gamblers, non-gamblers, gambling venue workers, gambling treatment providers and church leaders. The results suggest that some Pacific people draw a distinction between ‘community’ and ‘commercial’ types of gambling, that gambling is understood by some to be an easy way in which to make money, and also that familial and church obligations can motivate gambling behaviour. These findings inform possible unique features of gambling in Pacific cultures in New Zealand and internationally. Moreover, together with the research approach the results inform further research on Pacific peoples' relationship with gambling, as well as those of other cultural groups.