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Problem Gambling a Cultural Danger to Asian Americans

By Lance Burkhart on March 10, 2009  Email it!    Print Version

Play Slots at Rushmore Casino! SAN FRANSISCO, CALIFORNIA -- Problem gambling may be highest among Asian Americans in the US, but Asians are among the least likely to seek help. Such difficulties as the influence of gambling in Asian culture and language barriers hinder efforts to treat Asian compulsive gambling.

The Sacramento Bee reports that Asian cultural imperatives act against problem gamblers seeking help. Many Asians believe events are predetermined, and struggling against fate will do no good, says Dr. Tim Fong, a scientist at UCLA's Gambling Studies Program.

Asians also tend to think mental problems are imaginary and should be controlled by the victim. Yet surveys show shockingly high incidents of compulsive gambling in Asian communities.

Where US norms stick around two percent of the population, some evidence suggests Asian problem gambling might be as high as fifty percent. But little is done to treat these issues, with almost no Asian-language treatment available, even in areas with dense Asian populations.

One Cantonese-speaking therapist tells horror stories of the massive losses of his clients, and wonders why his facility is the only Chinese-language problem gambling center in California.

Asians in treatment say those of their cultural upbringing have to accept that asking for help is not shameful, and beats losing one's family and livelihood. Some still hide their problem, unwilling to carry a stigma of not being able to handle gambling pressure.

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