Why people gamble: A qualitative study of four New Zealand ethnic groups


In multicultural countries such as New Zealand, it is particularly important that gambling research take into account possible cultural differences. Many New Zealanders come from cultures that do not have a history of gambling, including the Maori (New Zealand indigenous people), Pacific Islanders, and recent migrants. Little research has examined the reasons why people start and continue to gamble, especially among different ethnic groups. This research project thus aimed to develop a framework to explain how environmental, cultural, and social factors interact with personal attributes to determine gambling behaviors. In a qualitative study, 131 people broadly representative of Maori, Pacific, Asian, and Pakeha/New Zealand European groups residing in New Zealand were interviewed individually or in focus groups. They included social and problem gamblers, families of problem gamblers, and professionals. Different personal, socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural factors were identified, summarized in a developmental framework, and compared to factors found for ethnic groups in other countries. Public health policy issues were raised, including greater control of gambling promotion.

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