“Gambling Can’t Be Positive, Can it?”: Gambling Beliefs and Behaviors Among Older Korean Immigrants

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By bhadmin February 2, 2021

After migrating to the United States, older Korean immigrants may increase their gambling participation and be at higher risk for problem gambling. However, not much is known about their experiences and beliefs on gambling. The purpose of the present study was to explore gambling behaviors and shared beliefs about gambling among older Korean immigrants residing in New York City. A total of 20 semi-structured in-depth interviews (10 men and 10 women) were conducted in Korean. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. The findings revealed three major categories among older Korean immigrants. The first category, cultural beliefs, has three subcategories (i.e., gambling is unethical, fear of addiction, and losing everything) and refers to negative beliefs about gambling. The second category, adaptation, refers to positive attitudes they acquired as they adjusted to the new gambling environment (i.e., harmless leisure, coping strategies, and excitement in life). Last, they revealed ambivalence about gambling (i.e., changes in gambling environment, ‘my gambling’ is different, and gambling in secrecy). Overall, older Korean immigrants have retained their cultural beliefs about gambling, even as they have embraced the legalized gambling environment and changed social norms of the U.S. However, they have trouble reconciling the differences between their beliefs, behaviors, values, and newly acquired norms. Findings point to a need for healthy and affordable leisure pursuits, and for culturally appropriate intervention programs to help problem gamblers.

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