Skip to main content


Pathways to Development of Problem Gambling among Chinese Gamblers in Hong Kong: Validation of the Blaszczynski and Nower (2002) Model

Article metrics

  • 440 Accesses

  • 7 Citations


This study investigated the pathway to development of problem gambling in treatment-seeking gamblers attending a self-help group in Hong Kong. A total of 17 problem gamblers (15 men, 2 women; aged from 22 to 58 years) were interviewed and categorized according to the Blaszczynski and Nower (2002) pathways model. It was found that the majority of treatment-seeking gamblers were behaviorally conditioned gamblers. Gamblers of this type often reported an early involvement in gambling during childhood as part of family activities. They recalled an early win in their gambling history. Unlike gamblers with emotional problems in the Wood and Griffiths (2007) study, behaviorally conditioned gamblers exhibited little or no emotional problems before the onset of gambling problems. Further, their excessive gambling appears to be confounded with poor decision-making and a lack of effective coping skills. The findings of the current study also highlight the importance of family upbringing in the development of problem gambling.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed, text revised). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

  2. Blaszczynski, A., & McConaghy, N. (1994). Antisocial personality disorder and pathological gambling. Journal of Gambling Studies, 10, 129–146.

  3. Blaszczynski, A., & Nower, L. (2002). A pathways model of problem and pathological gambling. Addiction, 97, 487–499.

  4. Blaszczynski, A., & Steel, Z. (1998). Personality disorders among pathological gamblers. Journal of Gambling Studies, 41, 51–71.

  5. Chan, C. C. (2011). The clinical and social construction of pathological gamblers in Macau (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.

  6. Chan, C. C., & Ohtsuka, K. (2010). The clinical and social construction of Chinese pathological gamblers in Macau. Proceedings of the International Conference on Gaming Industry and Public Welfare 2010 November 2010, Beijing, China (pp. 254–259).

  7. Chan, C. C., & Ohtsuka, K. (2011). All for the winner: An analysis of the characterization of male gamblers in Hong Kong movies with gambling theme. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 9, 208–218. doi:10.1007/s11469-010-9274-5

  8. Cheng, W. K. (2006). From pathological gambling to help seeking: Cases of female pathological gamblers in Hong Kong (Unpublished master’s thesis). The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

  9. Delfabbro, P. (2004). The stubborn logic of regular gamblers: Obstacles and dilemmas in cognitive gambling research. Journal of Gambling Studies, 20, 1–21. doi: 10.1023/B:JOGS.0000016701.17146.d0

  10. DiClemente, C. C., Prochaska, J. O., Fairhurst, S. K., Velicer, W. F., Velasquez, M. M., & Rossi, J. S. (1991). The process of smoking cessation: An analysis of precontemplation, contemplation, and preparation stages of change. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 295–304.

  11. Haw, J. (2009). Impulsivity partially mediates the relationship between depression and problem gambling, Gambling Research, 21, 12–21.

  12. Hycner, R. H. (1999). Some guidelines for the phenomenological analysis of interview data. In A. Bryman & R. G. Burgess (Eds.), Qualitative research (pp. 143–264). London: Sage.

  13. Lam, H. P. (2004). Becoming pathological casino gamblers in Hong Kong: Do big winning experiences matter (Unpublished master’s thesis)? The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

  14. Ohtsuka, K., & Chan, C. C. (2009). Desperate housewives: An analysis of the characterisations of female gamblers portrayed in gambling movies in Hong Kong. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 7, 229–238. doi:10.1007/s11469-008-9180-2

  15. Ohtsuka, K., & Chan, C. C. (2010). Donning red underwear to play mahjong: superstitious beliefs and problem gambling among mahjong players in Macau. Gambling Research, 22, 18–33.

  16. Ohtsuka, K., & Ohtsuka, T. (2010). Vietnamese Australian gamblers’ views on luck and winning: Universal versus culture-specific schemas. The Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health, 1, 34–46.

  17. Oyserman, D. (in press). Culture as situated cognition: Cultural mindsets, cultural fluency and meaning-making. European Review of Social Psychology.

  18. Oyserman, D., Sorensen, N., Reber, R., & Chen, S. X. (2009). Connecting and separating mindsets: Culture as situated cognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 217–235.

  19. Papineau, E. (2005). Pathological gambling in Montreal’s Chinese community: an anthropological perspective. Journal of Gambling Studies, 21, 157–178.

  20. Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1986). The transtheoretical approach: Towards a systematic eclectic framework. In J. C. Norcross (Ed.), Handbook of eclectic psychotherapy (pp. 163–200). New York: Brunner/Mazel.

  21. Prochaska, J. O., DiClemente, C. C., & Norcross, J. C. (1992). In search of how people change. Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47, 1102–1114.

  22. Taber, J., & McCormick, R. (1987). The pathological gambler in treatment. In T. Galski (Ed.). The handbook of pathological gambling (pp. 137–168). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

  23. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2002). Report on a study of Hong Kong People’s participation in gambling activities. Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Retrieved 2nd July, 2010 from

  24. The University of Hong Kong (2005). Report on a study of Hong Kong people’s participation in gambling activities. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong. Retrieved 8th July, 2010 from:

  25. Toneatto, T., & Millar, G. (2004). Assessing and treating problem gambling: Empirical status and promising trends, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 49, 517–525.

  26. Wong, I. (2010). Hong Kong gamblers’self-help groups: Contributions and challenges. Paper presented at the International Conference on Gaming Industry and Public Welfare 2010, Beijing, China.

  27. Wong, Y. L. R., Leung, Y. K. T., & Lau, C. W. D. (2009). Behind the allure of gambling: A qualitative exploration of the existential yearnings of Chinese men with problem gambling in Hong Kong. International Gambling Studies, 9, 189–205.

  28. Wood, R. T. A., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). A qualitative investigation of problem gambling as an escape-based coping strategy. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 80, 107–125.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Keis Ohtsuka.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article


  • Chinese Gamblers
  • Gambling Pathways Model
  • Problem Gambling