The motives for recreational gambling

Ivan Ka Wa Lai


Over the past few decades, gambling has become an increasingly popular, widely available, and socially acceptable recreational activity in Asia. Many researchers stated that gambling creates a real problem – the pathological gambler. However, other researchers suggested that if gambling players can control their gambling with a reasonable money and time, gambling is a recreational activity. Most research on gambling motivation has examined the causes of pathological gambling. Only a few studies have examined motivation for recreational gambling. This study tries to identify the motives for recreational gambling in Macau. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with gambling players to record the processes of their gambling activities. Context analysis was employed to identify powerful insights on the motivation for recreational gambling. Twelve motives in three categories were identified. They are psychological motives (excitement, fun, enjoyment, risk-taking, self-determination, and tension releasing/escaping), social motives (friendship, expertizing, and learning), and functional motives (winning, exercise, and benefit). Several recreational gambling methods are suggested for gambling players to obtain above motives in the most cost effective way. This study contributes a set of motives that can be employed to further study the behavior of recreational gambling. The results of this study also provide practical guidelines for the government and gambling marketers to formulate marketing strategies to prompt recreational gambling.

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