The Mohegan Tribe unveiled an ad campaign Monday designed to warn teenagers of a new law imposing fines and jail time on minors caught on gaming floors.
The law, which takes effect Wednesday, allows police to charge minors with a misdemeanor and a $100 fine if they are caught on gambling floors. Using forged IDs to get on gambling floors could result in fines between $100 and $500 and 30 days in jail.
Minors always have been forbidden from gambling floors, but state and tribal officials gathered in the Legislative Office Building at the state Capitol said the new provisions would help enforce the existing prohibitions.
“That has always been the law,” state Rep. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, said. “Now we have an opportunity to make the law more meaningful.”
The newspaper ads pull no punches, featuring school yearbook-type photos superimposed over shots of people being booked or being placed in prison. In a radio spot, a speaker who sounds as if he’s smoked one cigarette too many warns teens of the risk of jail.
“What if you start crying?” the voice says. “What if your mom starts crying?”
The number of young people gambling at Mohegan Sun is relatively small, Mohegan tribal chairman Mark Brown said, but the casino wanted to take steps to control the problem and provide adequate measures to punish teen-agers who try to gamble.
“It hasn’t been a problem at all,” Brown said. “But you want to proactively address it as it comes.”
Studies conducted by the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling suggest that teenagers are a particularly high-risk group for compulsive gambling.
Approximately 11.3 percent of college-age adults are known to have compulsive gambling problems, with a comparable rate for high school students, said Marvin Steinberg, executive director of the organization.
“This is an at-risk group, and this past year, we did a study of clinical agencies, the point being that there aren’t enough trained clinicians to deal with minors,” he said.
The $150,000 ad campaign will run through the state over the next two months; the casino then would revisit its effectiveness afterward, said Tom Bradley, director of public relations for Mintz & Hoke, the firm that designed the campaign.
CASINOS AN OBSESSION AMONG ASIAN REFUGEE COMMUNITY IN CONNECTICUT
Dr. Nancy Petry’s controversial study of gambling among Connecticut’s Southeast Asian refugees began with a hunch. Certainly gambling is a popular pastime within that community. That much would seem plain to anyone who watched the crowds buzzing around the gaming tables and slot machines at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. But what she found was astounding.
Compulsive gambler’s online help at Gamble Tribune Of the 96 Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians who took part in a survey of their betting habits, about 59 percent were found to be pathological gamblers. That’s nearly 30 times the pathological gambling rate of the general adult population of North America — about 2 percent. For Thailand – แจกเครดิตฟรี
“We’d heard stories about problem gambling among Asians — parents leaving kids in the parking lots, the story of an Asian gambler who struck and killed someone while racing from one casino to the other,” says Chris Armentano, director of Problem Gambling Service at the state Department of Mental Health and a co-author of the study. “But this was the biggest rate of problem gambling that I had ever seen.”
As one of the few studies to quantify the prevalence of problem gambling among Southeast Asian refugees, Petry’s work has been welcomed by Armentano and others who treat gambling addictions. But for the social workers serving the Southeast Asian community profiled in the study, feelings are more ambivalent.
While acknowledging that Petry’s study highlights a very damaging problem, many say its methods were flawed, its results inflated and its conclusions unfair.
Like most scholarly papers of its kind, Petry’s study, Gambling Participation and Problem Gambling Among South East Asian Refugees to the United States, is long on observations and short on conclusions.
Still, the last paragraph of the seven-page study which was featured in the August issue of Psychological Services, notes that “many members of South East Asian community centers experienced physical torture in their home countries.”
“Gambling,” the report continues, “may have a unique draw for persons who have experienced severe and persistent abuse.”
Some Southeast Asian leaders say it is wrong to speculate that trauma drives Southeast Asian refugees to gamble. Ironically, some of these same skeptics encouraged Petry’s research and provided her study subjects. One even appears as the paper’s co-author, who began her life as a refugee activist not long after she escaped Cambodia and then founded in 1982 the Khmer Health Advocates with the help of three American nurses who had served Cambodian refugees in Thailand. She concedes that the report does not reflect the whole picture. “It only draws from people who went for help at social service centers. From that it does a lot of assuming,” she says. “The study assumes in the summary that this is a culture [of gambling]. That is not fair to this culture. It’s not a cultural study.”
Cambodians in the study were found to wager more frequently and spend more money on an average than either Laotians or Vietnamese. They were also found to wager more frequently on a number of games — slots, horse racing, dice — than the other two groups.
Gambling is a phenomenon indigenous to many Southeast Asian cultures. People who reach the United States may not be accustomed to the garish glamour of American gambling but they know something of its form.
The city of Poipet, Cambodia on the Thai border is an upscale gambling mecca of the region. Quy Tran, a leader of the Vietnamese community in Connecticut, explains how Vietnamese children are raised on gambling bloodsports like fish, cricket and cock fighting.
“I think that the 60 percent compulsive gambling is unbelievable,” says Tran, vice president of the Vietnamese Mutual Assistance Association and a loan agent for People’s Bank in Waterbury, speaking of the Petry study. “Frankly I would be surprised if it was anything above 10 percent in the general refugee population.”
Tran, who calls himself an occasional casino patron, arrived in the United States as one of thousands of “boat people” fleeing Vietnam after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. He also faults the study sample. “Such a study should be random,” Tran says. “Most people who go to a community center already need help.” Tran suggests casino might be one of the few recreational outlets available for refugees without the need to know English well.
The report concedes that its method has “some weaknesses” such as its relying on social workers to provide study subjects. “We did not use random sampling procedures,” it allows, “and there may have been some response bias.”
Still, Petry says that the report is valuable and insists that there is some evidence that trauma is a contributing factor to the onset of pathological gambling.
Petry says she recently completed a further study examining the occurrences of childhood abuse among pathological gamblers within the general population. The study finds that a high proportion of gamblers had a history of childhood trauma and abuse.
Yes, Petry says, there is a constellation of factors that contribute to pathological gambling and trauma is just one. But what is beyond doubt, the researcher says, is that gambling is prevalent in the Southeast Asian refugee. The only ones who benefit from that are the casinos.