UNITED STATES—For many individuals, gambling is a past time, a fun way to spend a small budget a month and get a good run for your money in return.  Other players, have a much worse experience than others and fall down the rabbit hole of gambling addictions.

We can still recall the story of a humble gambler, an average 30-year-old shop worker that let gambling take over his life.  Unfortunately, this individual spent all his well-earned money on casino fun, as gambling addictions took over his life and his pockets. This is when there was no food left on the table, and no money to buy any food to keep living a healthy life.

Gambling addicts always try and find a way to fund their gambling addictions and this is why some of them revert to credit cards.  Mounting debts on credit cards is very very common, unfortunately. They are normally isolated from friends and family and gambling becomes the center of their universe just like what happened here.  This is when the gambler looked himself in the mirror and admitted that he has a problem, and his future is being impacted negatively. He took control of his life and decided that a change is needed and quickly.

When we talk about gambling and players visiting new sportsbook sites, we cannot shy away from looking at the figures of gambling addictions across the US and beyond.  A whopping 5 million Americans are addicted to gambling and only a mere 8% of this figure will seek help and assistance to recover from addictions. This data is derived from the National Council of Problem Gambling, an NGO that was set up in 2015.

One of the growing minorities that are facing massive gambling addictions is the Asian American community.  Addictions have been the reason why people are losing their jobs, their careers, their family and overall life. Some gamblers feel that they lose so much that they are even faced with the daunting thought of suicide. Is America doing enough to target problem gambling and halt gambling addictions?

One of the main things to target gambling is starting by dividing down the figures by ethnicities.  This would be a good start to try and establish where the problem lies.

Are Asian American communities more at risk than other ethnicities?

How many times do we visit a favorite online casino site and see an Asian themes slot game?  Many times.  The fact is that when the Lunar New Year kicks off, there is always a rise in gambling amongst the Asian American community.  Another rise in gambling was also recorded with the COVID-19 pandemic and also the ample lockdowns that it brought with it.

Many Asian American Academics have come out and said that gambling activities are on the rise amongst the community. With a special focus on the Lunar New Year, gamblers are testing their luck, even more, pushing the boundaries even further and hoping to kick off the new year with a bag of gambling winnings.

Apart from the online gambling niche, Asian Americans are also being targeted to attend land-based casinos via various promotions.  The adverts say that Asian Americans will be awarded free transports and other freebies, ways to swoop the gambler off their feet. This is the way that the working-class community is being targeted. The lower working class that have jobs in Chinese restaurants are being targeted, with a promise of wins being landed.  The minorities being targeted include the Chinese. Filipinos, Vietnamese and also Korean American citizens.

The issue is the support that these people get.  Is it enough that in California there are 206 board-certified gambling counsellors but only about 12 that speak Asian American languages? Is this enough what America is doing to mitigate the risk of risking gambling addictions amongst Asian American communities?

Can we talk about what needs to be done?

To address gambling addictions in America, one needs to draw up reports that target and highlight where the gambling addictions are stemming from. If there is an emerging issue with the Asian American community, help needs to be provided in terms of offering support targeting different languages.

Campaigns against problem gambling should be addressed and launched nationwide and there should be incentives for Asian American counselors to start operating, hence reaching more gamblers that are facing gambling addictions. This will also target the cultural backgrounds that people are raised in. Being Bilingual and also Bicultural is an important aspect to tackle and deal with gambling addictions from different ethnicities

We can all agree that gambling addictions do not just target the gambler, they also reach the families of gamblers. These also need all the support that is available. In the UK many gambling charities assist gamblers and their families, this has seen families reunited, go through problem gambling together and emerge victoriously.  This is something that America would need to implement and fast, especially now that many states are looking at legalizing gambling at their respective spates.

What are the current issues?

The current issues are many and the world pandemic of COVID-19 is not helping much. Many people are staying home, and many Asian Americans are resorting to gambling.  We spoke to an individual that has opted to remain anonymous.  This colleague student explained that his mother has always been a gambler, a problematic one, and when the COVID pandemic started his mother started gambling more and more.

The Asian American student had to take up a job at college to start sending money home to his mother.  Basic necessities started to become a burden, and so did having food on the table. The last straw was when the student had to ask for money for himself to continue living a healthy lifestyle.  This is when the whole family, reunited, staged an intervention and made sure that they sought help for the mother. In the process, many money was lost.  Unfortunately, many gambling addictions tend to hide their addictions, this could be due to shame, and hence once does not ask for help.

The California Gambling and Education Treatment Services provided and continue to provide ongoing free support to many people who are facing gambling addictions in California.  The support services have assisted around 16 thousand people who have asked for gambling addiction treatment.  A hefty 11% of that figure is the Asian American community.   Part of the ongoing treatment is to allow the gamblers to be vulnerable about their addictions, talk about it in a safe space and feel supported throughout. Accepting that the addiction is present is imperative to move forward as a family unit. The treatment empowers gambling addicts to be open about their addictions, come to term with them and not shy away from the problem. Talking and sharing are all key to a healthy lifestyle and a way forward.

Studies and data show that Vietnamese and also Cambodian ethnicities in the  US also need to be supported further.  There is a lack of support, and these gambling addicts do need to get the help they deserve if they seek help. The needs for gambling counselors is rising and the US needs to make sure that players visiting new sportsbook sites are not doing so for the wrong reasons and just entertainment purposes.

As gambling addictions rise in the US, the best approach and a way forward would include making sure that the support is available. For the problem gambler, for the family and for anyone who seeks assistance in tackling addictions.