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The Casino Debate & Communities of Color

by Talia Whyte

 

The recent controversy around NFL player Michael Vick's participation in dog fighting put a spotlight on the many gambling habits happening within high risk communities around the country.  According to those who are against the Massachusetts casino proposal, they say casinos would only exacerbate problem gambling among those mostly affected, namely people of color and low income communities. 

A study from the Washington University in St. Louis shows that problem gambling in minority communities is 2-3 times higher than in white communities, however, minorities receive little to no care prevention and treatment. Many surveys show that people of color have the highest lottery participation rates in many states.  As a matter of fact, lottery participation in minority communities is such a problem that many personal finance analysts call it Lottery Riches Syndrome.

The current economic downturn has only made gambling of all forms worse in these communities, especially illegal gambling.  The Village Voice and the New York Community Media Alliance recently looked at the spike in underground gambling activities and arrests among New York's immigrant Bengali community.  For many in this community, gambling helps numb the pain of the recession.

"We have been addicted to gambling out of mental ache," one gambler said. "We have no green card, no work, so what else do we have than this gambling to spend our time?"