Worldwide Wagering: How Different Cultures Perceive Gambling

happy woman gambling at casino playing slot machine

Gambling is an international pastime that sees millions of people around the world visiting local casinos, logging online with a PC, or using their mobile phones to place bets and try their luck.

Despite this, some regions and cultures aren’t quick to embrace the thrill of live casinos or the excitement of watching reels spin. This is down to cultural and religious beliefs and means that, in some countries, gambling is frowned upon rather than enjoyed.

Below, we’ve broken down international cultures and how they feel about gambling. From the high-rises in New York to the rural villages of African countries, keep reading to see how different people relate to the notion of placing wagers.


When it comes to residents of Africa, gambling has both a surprising past and a surprising contrast. Many believe that gambling was first introduced to African cultures after the colonization of many African countries by the British and other European regions. However, this isn’t necessarily true.

Gambling in Ranomafana, a common past time on a Sunday, Madagascar Central Highlands
Photo via Envato Elements

Much evidence has been found to support the stance that gambling has always been a rich part of African culture in some areas. Although it may not have taken the form of modern gambling as we know it today (table games and slot machines), proof has been found that African tribes and countries have gambled for centuries.

These forms of gambling have been rudimentary at best and have mostly been limited to dice-throwing or similar types of games. However, with the arrival of European colonizers, new ways to gamble made their way to the continent’s shores.

Since then, gambling among African residents has been on the rise. It has become ingrained in many African cultures, with newer games to play, more considerable sums to be won, and more thrilling thrills. The rollout of mobile internet availability on the continent has spurred this on, with countries like Nigeria seeing record numbers of gamblers in recent years.

In contrast, there are also several African countries where gambling is not so openly welcomed. Places like Somalia, Niger, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Sudan have strict laws to oppose gambling — with some countries imposing Shari’a law against those who are caught in the act.

This disdain for the pastime comes from cultural beliefs that the pastime is a ‘white’ activity or from staunch religious beliefs that gambling is a sin. With many of the countries mentioned being predominantly Muslim, gambling is harshly condemned due to the faith’s beliefs.


As of 2019, an estimated 47.2 million U.S. citizens were classified as African-American. This demographic stems from many generations either already living in the U.S. or African families moving to the country in search of the “American dream.”

Business man with winning cards
Photo via Envato Elements

The U.S.A. is one of the most complex nations in which to understand gambling. With cities like Las Vegas being built on the foundation of gambling, contrasting with states like Utah that have a blanket ban on gambling, the landscape is challenging to navigate for anyone in the country wishing to place a bet.

Despite this, gambling is an integral part of the culture of African Americans living in the country. Studies have shown that this demographic is most susceptible to gambling, with young black men being the primary users of gambling websites, apps, casinos and sportsbooks.

Although there is no apparent reason for the gambling culture ingrained into this society, many have theorized that it is due to the circumstances in which many African-Americans grow up. With poverty playing a prominent role, gambling is seen as a way to gain not just entertainment but also the hope of a possible win that will lead to a better life.

There is a downside to the popularity of gambling among African-Americans. Studies have shown that they are more likely to develop addictive gambling problems than any other race or culture in the country.


The world is a melting pot of cultures, many of which combine as people fall in love, marry and have children. Millions of mixed-race individuals benefit from having two cultural backgrounds from which to draw their identities. Cape Verde in Africa is the epicenter of this, with more than almost 75% of the population being mixed-race.

Gambling table in luxury casino
Photo via Envato Elements

It is difficult to say where on the spectrum people from mixed-race cultures fall when it comes to gambling. This is mainly because it depends entirely on what cultures they are a combination of. Some whose parents have come from cultures that approve of gambling may also do so.

However, people who come from cultures where one parent’s beliefs condone gambling while the other condemns it may find it challenging to choose from a cultural perspective. In many instances, however, gambling is seen in a positive light by mixed-race individuals.

In Cape Verde, for instance, gambling is growing into a massive industry as more people begin to enjoy the pastime. In South Africa, those of colored culture enjoy gambling almost as much as any other culture, and in the U.S.A., many mixed-race residents enjoy trips to the casino.


Although there are various types of Asian cultures, gambling is commonly prevalent in all of them. This is because gambling is seen as a social activity and something that can be done by families, friends or just groups of people in general.

Playing Mahjong on the table
Photo via Envato Elements

Because of this, gambling is wildly popular among those of Asian descent, with many cultures seeing luck while gambling as a blessing from the gods. Despite this, the pastime is prohibited in some Asian countries, and residents need to travel to other areas in Asia to be able to gamble.

Asian-Americans, on the other hand, are free to gamble wherever and however their state laws allow it. This has led to high levels of participation in gambling, which has even led to studies seeking to understand the root causes of why so many of Asian descent enjoy the pastime.


Although gambling is popular among many of the cultures mentioned above, those of Caucasian descent are the most likely culture to welcome the activity. Stemming from European culture, gambling is widely practiced by white individuals in almost any country where it is legal, with few opting against the practice due to religious beliefs.

Upper class friends gambling in a casino
Photo via Envato Elements


The world is home to hundreds of unique cultures stemming from many regions. The cultures or demographics mentioned above are just a snapshot of these. In many of them, gambling is accepted and even embraced, though not in all.

happy woman gambling at casino playing slot machine
happy woman gambling at casino playing slot machine

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