Problem gambling in Asian communities neglected, says new Salford study

By Paul Berentzen

A Salford academic is calling for tailored services to tackle problem gambling among minority groups following new research on gambling in the Asian community.

The report, published jointly by the University of Salford and NatCen Social Research, found that Asian gamblers are significantly more likely to develop a gambling problem than their white counterparts.

It said that although just 49% of Asian men had gambled in the last year, far fewer than the 75% of white males who had done so, the proportion of those who were classified as problem gamblers was substantially higher.

This trend was mirrored in women and 11 to 15-year-olds. The problem is so pronounced that the percentage of the total Asian population with a gambling problem was higher than the equivalent figure for white people, despite far fewer having gambled at all.

The survey on which the paper was based gave ‘Chinese’ as a separate option, meaning the majority of respondents describing themselves as Asian were from Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds.

David Forrest, Professor of Economics at the University of Salford Business School and co-author of the paper, said: “There is perhaps a need for agencies involved in tackling gambling addiction and problem gambling to look at improving access to services for Asian people.

“This could include provision of information in Asian languages and a more proactive approach to reaching communities where prevalence may be high.”

These issues relating to the Asian community have been noted in the past, yet the rate of problem gambling remains unusually high.

Professor Forrest suggested that cultural differences are largely responsible for the number of gamblers who develop a problem.

“There is a much greater stigma attached to gambling in the Asian community compared to the white community,” he said.

“While gambling can be performed relatively casually by white people, Asian gamblers need to be more committed to their pursuit in the first instance, so they are much more likely to be people driven to gambling and, therefore, more likely to develop a gambling problem or addiction.”

Criteria used in the research to label someone as a problem gambler include chasing losses, trying and failing to cut down on their gambling and lying to conceal the extent of their habit

Professor Forrest added: “As participation in gambling is much less common among Asian people, the community as a whole is less likely to have knowledge or experience of it and is therefore not well-equipped to recognise the signs of potential problem gambling, or to know how to address them.”

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