Solving problem gambling

March 27, 2006

Article Launched: 3/26/2006 12:00 AM
 
 
Solving problem gambling
 
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
 
ASSEMBLYWOMAN
Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, is in the forefront in seeking answers to
problem gambling among Asian-Pacific Islanders.

She's
got her work cut out for her because while only about 1.6 percent of
the general population nationwide could be classified as pathological
gamblers a recent survey indicated as high as 21 percent of
Chinese-Americans could fall under that classification.

Chu and the problem gambling task force of the
Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus convened recently to discuss the issue
and seek solutions.

Cultural influences could play a big part in why some
individuals go from recreational gambling to full-blown compulsive
gaming.

Many Asian cultures place great emphasis on luck, fate,
chance and numerology and gambling is seen as a harmless pastime in
many families, even for children.

Mah-jongg games have long been central to in-home social
events for family and friends. They can be compared to canasta or
bridge nights enjoyed by hip suburbanites of the 1950s, although
gambling among Asians has deeper roots and can be said to be a genuine
cultural outgrowth.

As noted in the March 20 report by Staff Writer Patricia
Jiayi Ho, Chu, herself, remembers the click of mah-jongg tiles lulling
her to sleep as a child.

The majority of Asians, however, keep recreational gambling in check.

Today
with the emphasis on online poker games and televised gaming events
it's tougher than ever to muffle the siren song of the big win, the big
spin.

Now that it's being sold as a "sport," to the detriment of
young people, more and more teens of all ethnicities are being lured
into the world of gambling. It is perhaps a shorter leap for Asian
youth as their culture already embraces many aspects of gambling.

Casinos and card clubs in Southern California and Nevada do
little to nothing to stem problem gambling and well aware of the Asian
penchant for gambling, provide players easy access. Indian gambling
outfits employ bilingual hosts to make their Asian customers feel more
at ease and provide gambling tours geared to Asians. The trips are so
popular and numerous that Monterey Park and other communities with
large Asian populations are considering ordinances to regulate the tour
buses that ply their streets.

Of course, Asians along with the rest of the population
must contend with the state lottery – tax-supported gambling with a
government stamp of approval.

Gambling addiction isn't a compulsion easy to break and
it's doubly difficult in Asian cultures where seeking help is seen as a
weakness. No wonder there are few Asian-based self-help groups and even
less material in native languages. Chu and the caucus could be most
instrumental in changing that perception among the Asian population.

It's crucial that Chu and other influential Asian leaders
attack this problem head-on. It would seem a natural project for the
numerous Asian-American associations in the region from Chinese to
Filipino. Perhaps they could stand the cost of pamphlets on the dangers
of compulsive gambling to be placed in community centers and
senior-citizen clubs. Or perhaps they could band together to produce
public service announcements on radio and TV.

To be most effective, the push must come from the Asian
community itself. It's clear Chu and her group are spearheading that
effort.

 
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