In Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean and Cambodian communities, social workers and leaders are pressuring gaming officials and state legislators to recognize a hidden epidemic. Timothy Fong, co-director of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program, will be running a gambling study. Nobody really knows how deeply problem gambling reaches into Asian communities because Asians haven’t been broken up as a group in national or California studies on the situation.
But a 1999 poll in San Francisco’s Chinatown, commissioned by a social services agency, found that 70% of 1,808 respondents ranked gambling as their community’s No. 1 problem. In a follow-up survey, 21 percent of respondents considered themselves pathological gamblers and 16% more called themselves problem gamblers speeds substantially higher compared to the population. Current data suggest that 1.6% of Americans can be classified as pathological gamblers, a condition recognized as a psychiatric disease.