Why Gambling is Popular Among Chinese?

The Chinese consider gambling an acceptable form of social activity. It is seen as a new way to make friends, establish social bonds and to conclude business ventures.

When it comes to gambling at casinos the Chinese visit them purely for financial reasons. For forty years under the yoke of the ruling Communist Party, Chinese mainlanders were not allowed to engage in any form of gambling. Gambling in casinos is seen as a get rich quick scheme, arguably the main reason why so many Chinese patrons flock to Las Vegas or Macau casinos.

Apart from visiting casinos for financial reasons, boredom and stress are attributing factors as as well. Many Chinese middle aged women visit each others’ houses to play Mahjong, a popular gambling game in China.

A few years ago China opened its doors to the global market economy, this move significantly increased stress amongst business people. A recent survey indicates that approximately 90% of Chinese visitors to the United States visit Las Vegas. Most of them have gambled frequently in Macau and Southeast Asia. When asked why they gamble the reply is almost always the same, “It’s relaxing. When I gamble, I don’t worry about anything else”.

As technology would have it, it wasn’t long before Chinese people started venturing online. Unfortunately the Chinese government still outlaws online gambling. By nature the Chinese are a superstitious bunch. Their beliefs in superstitions are normally portrayed in their movies. In a scene from Kung Fu Mahjong, one actor claimed that he was wearing his red underwear and simply had to visit Macau.

Chinese Gambling Superstition

Some industry observers believe that the Chinese have a strong illusion of control which is exacerbated during gambling.

When it comes to numbers; the Chinese firmly believe that picking the right numbers can have a profound affect on ones fortune. Chinese gamblers will deliberately avoid hotel room numbers like 4 (sounds similar to die in Cantonese) and 58 (sounds like won’t prosper in Cantonese). In turn, they’ll rather pick hotel room numbers like 84 (sounds similar to prosperous in Cantonese) or 18 (sounds like prosper in Cantonese).

The number 8 is a very lucky number since it is associated with prosperity whilst 4 is associated with death. Numbers such as 3, 6 and 9 are also considered good numbers. If combined properly with 8 or other numbers it can increase one’s chances at winning. A combination of good numbers include 1388, 168 (sounds similar to prosper all the way in Cantonese) and 998 (sounds similar to prosper for a long time in Cantonese). However, picking the wrong number or combination of numbers can potentially be disastrous.

For example, a Chinese gambler boarded a shuttle bus to a casino in Macau noticed that the license plate of the bus was MF1358 (sounds like won’t prosper in one’s lifetime in Cantonese). Thinking that he should not be overly superstitious, he ignored it but kept it at the back of his mind. When he lost that night, he put the blame on the shuttle bus with lousy numbers as the main cause of his misfortune.

Chinese gamblers that are superstitious perform rituals to receive loads of blessings and luck from their gods. Such acts may include offering fruits, lighting up a joss stick or prayer. They would do so at the start of the Lunar New Year or before a major casino trip or publication of lottery draw numbers. Many Chinese also believe in feng shui.

They believe the world that they are living in are full of chi or force (positive or negative), which can be manipulated to their advantage. While some Chinese worship feng shui as a rational science, others see it as pure superstition. Some Chinese use feng shui (arranging furniture at home) to avoid bad fortune. Superstitious Chinese gamblers also avoid entering a casino through its main entrance since they believe it might be cursed by the feng shui geomancers.

Below is a list outlining some Chinese gambling superstitions and taboos.

Many young Chinese no longer believe in these do’s and don’ts, but they are still practiced by many.

Chinese Gambling Don’ts

  • In order to win don’t tell others that you must read a book on gambling. In Chinese, book sounds similar to lose.
  • Don’t count the money you won or lost when gambling.
  • Avoid nuns or monks before you gamble.
  • Don’t hit touch a fellow gambler’s shoulder while while he or she is gambling.
  • Before gambling sex must be avoided at all costs.
  • Avoid the casino’s main entrance. The feng shui masters cursed it.
  • Don’t try to be a winner at the very beginning or you will lose a lot of money in the end.
  • Avoid hotel rooms with the numbers 4 and 14.

Chinese Gambling Do’s

  • Always wear red when you’re gambling.
  • Go and pee. It brings good luck if you are experiencing a losing streak.
  • Females are more likely to win when they are having their period.
  • Before you go out to gamble switch on all the lights in your home.
  • Check into hotel rooms with auspicious numbers like 8, 18, 13, 168, 198 and 798.
  • Every gaming table has a baby ghost. Feed the ghost (i.e. with sugar). The ghost can help you to win or will not stop you from winning.
  • When playing baccarat, players must call out the word Deng (Cantonese) or Ding (Mandarin) prior to opening the cards.