Transplanted Lives: Immigration Challenges and Pathological Gambling Among Four Canadian Chinese Immigrants

Thumbnail Image
Lee, Bonnie K.
Fong, Mary
Solowoniuk, Jason
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The contribution of immigration stress to the development of pathological gambling is complex to delineate. Four in-depth case studies of Chinese who emigrated from Hong Kong to Canada in the years 1968 to 1974 reveal a late onset of pathological gambling nearly 30 years after immigration. Immigration stresses in the form of language and cultural barriers, intensified work, lack of leisure and recreation, insecurity of employment, racial discrimination, and social isolation are described by the participants. Chronic stresses from immigration interact over time with dwindling psycho-social resources as a result of marital alienation and a thinning social support and extendedfamily network. Discordant marital relationships deprive these immigrants of comforting havens in a new land despite their financial and material success. In mid-adulthood (age 47-59) three decades after immigration, life crises, deaths, transitions, empty nest as well as job insecurity overtax these immigrants’ coping capacities. These major life challenges activate unresolved early psychological trauma resulting in overwhelming distress for these individuals. Ignorant of the risks, these immigrants found gambling to be an outlet for their dysphoria and for meeting psychological needs. This study is limited by the small sample size of a specific cohort of four Chinese immigrants in Canada. Findings therefore serve only as a hypothesis for future studies. In-depth family assessment in the treatment of pathological gamblers and the addressing of marital relationships in problem gambling prevention and treatment programs for immigrants are recommended.
Permission to include this item in the University of Lethbridge Institutional Repository was granted by Dr. Daniel T.L. Shek, Professor, Department of Social Work, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Lee, B. K., Fong, M., & Solowoniuk, J. (2007). Transplanted lives: Immigration challenges and pathological gambling among four Canadian Chinese immigrants. In Proceedings of the Inaugural Asian Pacific Problem Gambling Conference 2005. Hong Kong: Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, Social Practice and Research Centre, and The Chinese University of Hong Kong.