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Open Access Open Badges Research article

The clinical and social construction of the Paichais of Macau

Chi Chuen Chan1 and Keis Ohtsuka2*

Author Affiliations

1 University of St. Joseph, Macau, China

2 Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

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Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health 2013, 3:6  doi:10.1186/2195-3007-3-6

Published: 1 March 2013


The aim of the present study was to understand the clinical and social construction of pathological gamblers in Macau. In Macau, they are called Paichai (扒仔), which literally means “to grab money from others.” This article is a qualitative enquiry into Paichais who gamble in the casinos daily, often for a prolonged period of time. Some Paichais are “resident” gamblers in the casinos who live on the complimentary food and drinks that the casinos provide and sleep on the couches inside the casino premises. To finance their gambling, they hustle and sometimes beg for money. Fifteen participants, ranging in age from 24 to 53 years, were recruited from the casinos in Macau who were repeatedly observed and interviewed. The emphasis of the interviews were to explore the participants’ accounts of how their gambling problem had developed and how gambling influenced their lives and their significant others. The Canadian Problem Gambling Index Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) (Ferris & Wynne, 2001) was used to assess their gambling status. Clinical assessment of the participants was based on the results of clinical interviews, observation notes and the scores on the PGSI. It was found that the majority of the participants could be classified as belonging to the antisocial-impulsive type according to the Blaszczynski and Nower (2002) pathways model of problem and pathological gambling. Paichais can be described as manipulative, cunning, impulsive, reckless and lacking the ability to reflect on their actions. The current study attempts to understand these individuals from the particular social and cultural perspectives of Macau.

Pathological gambling; Macau; Paichais; Chinese gambling