HomeCommunity IssuesNew York casino expansion targets Asian Americans

New York casino expansion targets Asian Americans

As the race for one of the three viable casino licenses in New York has begun, sights are set on Asian Americans.

Critics say major casino operators use aggressive advertisements tailored towards the community. Opponents argue the use of culturally significant symbols and celebrations preys on the historically marginalized group for profit.

While the competition for a casino contract in New York is underway, research has predicted revenue gains. But, there has been almost no research on the potential social, economic, and health repercussions the expansions would have on the Asian American community.

Some fear existing casinos in New York prey on Asian Americans through the inclusion of culturally festive promotions and in-language services. A popular NY casino, Resort World, features Lunar New Year events and cash drawings, BNN reports. All of these, draw on the Asian culture, like the lucky number 888 and the tradition of giving red envelopes.

Casino companies have funded Asian American targeted marketing for decades. The historically marginalized group is increasingly vulnerable to the repercussions of gambling addictions. And the addition of three more casinos in New York has sparked further concern over the disproportionate harm.

Busses pick up residents in predominantly Asian neighborhoods and drop them off at casinos upstate. A marketing tactic that has fed the gambling addiction of many Asian Americans contrasts with the lack of available resources. Yet, these casino operators oftentimes tout responsible gaming, The New York Daily News reports. However, anti-addiction programs and initiatives are limited, especially in-language resources.

Although their efforts to attract Asian Americans are abundant, their concern for the potential harmful repercussions is almost nonexistent.

“Gambling in the Asian American community is a problem that unfortunately is not being taken seriously enough, and there can be no doubt that the arrival of new casinos in New York City will lead to increased rates of gambling addiction, financial hardship and strained familial relationships for Asian-American New Yorkers,” New York State Senator John Liu and Assemblymember Grace Lee wrote in an op-ed in the Daily News.

Earlier in January, the Hamilton Madison House held a roundtable discussion. The organization offers gambling prevention services for Asian Americans and is calling for action.

At the discussion, the Hamilton Madison House raised concern over the disparity between casino accessibility and gambling prevention resources for Asian Americans.

For many Asian Americans, casinos provide hope.

Chinese immigrants ride the two-hour-long bus ride to the casino almost every day, The New York Times reported.

Those without work find going to the casino a way to make money. And for some elderly Asian Americans, going to the casino is a way to socialize.

Don Lee, chairman of Homecrest Community Services said “For many Asian seniors, they walk into any casino and don’t need to worry about cultural competence or respect of language.” Rather, they are “the one place where they feel safe.”

Frequent casino-goer, Guofu Zheng had to leave his restaurant job due to old age. Now, going to the casino allows him to “be happy for a bit.”

Many have endured the harsh repercussions of gambling, like Mr. Zhang.

Last year, Mr. Zhang, who asked to be identified by his last name only, lost $70,000 gambling. But, he continues to play with the hopes of earning it all back.

“If only I could win a little bit every time I came. How great would that be?” Mr. Zhang said.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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