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Massachusetts - 23 days ago

UMass Boston study addresses Asian American gambling addiction

UMass Boston study addresses Asian American gambling addiction Lindsey Bond Thu, 11/21/2019 - 11:30 A new study by UMass Boston researchers recommends that state officials do more to address gambling addiction in Asian American communities. The state-funded study, led by Institute for Asian American Studies (IAAS) researcher Carolyn Wong, examined the casino gambling practices of residents and workers in Boston’s Chinatown through a number of face-to-face interviews in the community. The 23 interviewees — a majority of them low-wage workers or retirees from the food and services industries — described varying degrees of dependency on gambling in casinos to relieve the drudgery of work in low-paying jobs in the food service industry, and the isolation of life in linguistically isolated neighborhoods with few alternative opportunities for recreation.  “Often gambling problems begin and worsen after Chinese immigrants come to the U.S., not before,” Wong said. “It is because of stress arising from the immigrant experience and because commercialized gambling in casinos is legal here but not in China, outside of Macau.” Researchers also pointed to the longstanding practice of casinos targeting advertising to Chinatown community members, and incentives to play, like coupons and buffet discounts, as making casino gambling too attractive to resist. It has become commonplace to see dozens of buses leaving Chinatown for the casinos, every couple of hours, seven days a week. Read the full report here. The research was conducted in partnership with the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, and with the assistance of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. Researchers selected participants who had recently gone to Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, or other casinos in the region. Participants expressed concern about the increased risk for problem gambling with the establishment of the new Encore Boston Harbor casino. “When you look at transportation options, the casino is practically at the doorstep of low-income Asian American residents of Chinatown, and also Malden and Charlestown. Close proximity of the casino to low income immigrant communities is a major risk factor in itself,” Wong said. “Now Encore has just started a free shuttle bus from Boston Chinatown. There are a handful of other departure points in Everett, Malden, and Chelsea, but no other locations in Boston except Chinatown. Clearly, the casino is targeting low income Chinese immigrants in its marketing program.” Wong says there are currently no culturally appropriate prevention and treatment programs in Chinatown. And it’s not just Chinatown. Researchers say there’s also a need for evidence-based and culturally appropriate prevention and treatment programs in other low-income Asian American communities in Massachusetts. “Asian immigrants with refugee origins in Southeast Asia are especially vulnerable to gambling problems because of the trauma of war and refugee experience,” she said. The research team recommended that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Public Health Trust Fund support culturally appropriate prevention and services for Asian Americans, like public health campaigns, treatment services and wellness programs, enlisting community-based organizations and professionals knowledgeable about Asian American communities. They emphasize community engagement at the grassroots level in public policy deliberation, including forming collaborative mechanisms to monitor the ethics of marketing to vulnerable communities. Wong and fellow researchers hope to expand the study to gambling problems, prevention, and treatment in communities of low-income Vietnamese and Cambodians residing in Dorchester, Quincy, Lowell, Malden, and Worcester. “Cultural appropriate treatment would be sensitive to people’s cultural values and different concepts of health. It is not enough to simply translate into Chinese standard practices developed for clients outside the Asian American communities,” Wong said. “For example, we recommend developing new approaches to family-oriented and inter-generational counseling on gambling problems because family solidarity is highly valued in Asian American communities. Counselors also need to understand how gambling problems co-occur with other health problems and the kinds of stress people experience in their daily lives.” Several media outlets reported on the study, including the Associated Press, USA Today, Politico, and MassLive. Crystal Valencia Research Often gambling problems begin and worsen after Chinese immigrants come to the U.S., not before. Nov. 20, 2019 No


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