Gambling has long been part of culture. While gambling can be enjoyable and lucrative, it can also cause significant issues for some individuals who struggle with an addiction that prevents them from controlling their spending.

Gambling’s cultural significance differs depending on its place of origin and is reflective of ancient beliefs and customs. Gambling provides entertainment to millions worldwide.


Gambling has long been an engaging pastime around the globe, with cultural traditions shaping its prevalence. A range of beliefs exist regarding its promotion or prohibition – making gambling’s relationship to culture both fascinating and reflective of how societies influence games of chance.

While previous research focused on situational and individual differences in gambling fallacies, this study investigates culture-specific theories of change. Specifically, Euro-Canadian and Chinese theories were tested against two gambling fallacies: gambler’s fallacy (GF; the belief that you will eventually break out from a losing streak), and hot-hand fallacy (HHF; believing your winning streak will continue). Their authors tested how both cultures experienced these cognitive fallacies differently. These results demonstrate how different cultures experience these cognitive fallacies differently.


Symbolism in gambling takes many forms. It may serve as a metaphor or as a way of conveying complex ideas through nonverbal means; for instance, Annie Proulx’s story Brokeback Mountain concludes with one character sniffing an old shirt belonging to their lost love; though this shirt shares no characteristics with them personally, its smell symbolizes the loss of their relationship.

Studies have demonstrated that various cultural variables can have a strong effect on gambling behavior, including luck and entertainment value perceptions as well as family values affecting betting habits. Additional influences include welcoming gambling environments, increased exposure and migration stressors.


Gambling research often focuses on individual behavior and addiction; however, a relatively recent and emerging body of literature explores how social structures influence how people engage with betting. Practice theory provides an effective framework for exploring this aspect of culture-influenced gambling activities.

Gambling is deeply embedded into many societies’ cultures, reflecting their traditions and beliefs. Some societies associate gambling with ceremonial or ritualistic practices while in others it serves as a form of social bonding. Furthermore, each culture has their own set of norms regarding what forms of gambling are acceptable – for instance French interviewees distinguished between everyday and convenient gambling locations while Finnish respondents saw both as integral parts of daily life.


Cultural factors play a pivotal role in gambling, from game types and their social aspects, to ceremonies and festivals where gambling plays an integral role. Some cultures prohibit it while others embrace it freely; additionally, social norms and historical context can play an influencer role when observing gambling trends.

Gambling and cultural traditions offer an exhilarating tale. Their intersection enriches both experiences while adding depth to society as a whole. Recent scholarship suggests that gambling practices may be shaped by cultural “deep structures”, such as Chinese beliefs in cyclical worldviews (Ji et al., 2001), thus potentially explaining why certain gamblers are more prone to fallacies than others.

Social impact

Research on gambling has increasingly focused on its social and cultural dimensions. This approach can provide valuable insight beyond approaches that simply focus on individual cognitive factors and behavior. Practice theory provides a useful framework for understanding how complex social practices like gambling become habitualized across contexts; its elements include materiality, sociality, discourse and norms.

Gambling has long been part of many cultures’ histories, often tied to cultural symbols or traditions. Gambling also serves a significant role in social bonding and community engagement by building camaraderie among members and creating shared experiences. Unfortunately, some cultures prohibit gambling outright while the financial harm caused by gamblers may divert resources away from areas in need–this may be especially problematic in low-resource communities.

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