Recognizing the two faces of gambling: The lived experiences of Korean women gamblers

Abstract

Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of women problem gamblers, focusing on the meaning of gambling to them, how and why these women continue to gamble or stop gambling, and their needs and concerns. In order to effectively help women problem gamblers, practical in-depth knowledge is necessary to develop intervention programs for prevention, treatment, and recovery among women problem gamblers.

Methods: The hermeneutic phenomenology approach was used to guide in-depth interviews and team interpretation of data. Sixteen women gamblers who chose to live in the casino area were recruited through snowball sampling with help from a counseling center. Participants were individually interviewed from February to April 2013 and asked to tell their stories of gambling. Transcribed interviews provided data for interpretive analysis.

Results: In the study analysis one constitutive pattern was identified: moving beyond addiction by recognizing the two faces of gambling in their life. Four related themes emerged in the analysis-gambling as alluring; gambling as ‘ugly’; living in contradictions; and moving beyond.

Conclusion: Loneliness and isolation play a critical role in gambling experi- ences of women gamblers in Korea. In other words, they are motivated to gamble in order to escape from loneliness, to stop gambling for fear of being lonely as they get older, and to stay in the casino area so as not to be alone. The need for acceptance is one of the important factors that should be considered in developing intervention program for women.

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