Targeting of Vulnerable People to Be a Key Issue in New York City Casino Application Process

  • New York City is getting up to three full-service casinos in the coming years
  • A New York Times piece raises concerns about the casinos targeting Asian immigrants
  • Potential licensees have had meetings discussing possible sites near Asian neighborhoods
  • An MGC study last year shows Asian Americans are more susceptible to casino marketing
Statue of Liberty with New York City in the background
A key issue in the application process for New York City casino licenses will be the targeting of vulnerable people, specifically Asian immigrants. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

High levels of gambling

With up to three full-service casinos set to come to New York City (NYC) in the coming years, there are concerns about the customer bases of these potential properties. A New York Times article has looked into the relationship that a lot of Asian immigrants, and notably the elderly, have with casino gambling. The expectation is that Asians are going to be a major customer base for NYC casinos.

While people who engage in gambling at these casinos can enjoy the entertainment, concerns remain about people falling into debt and addiction. Casino marketing can be alluring and there are reportedly insufficient services for problem gamblers who are Asian immigrants.

Asian Americans appear to be at an above-average risk

While not much research has been published about the prevalence of gambling activity by race, existing studies show that Asian Americans appear to be at an above-average risk of developing a gambling-related issue.

An important topic

The application process for casino companies to get one of the available New York City licenses is expected to begin in early 2023. The goal behind issuing these licenses is to create more jobs and greater revenue for the state. Lawmakers hope that the successful applicants will be selected by the end of next year. However, potential areas of concern also exist.

casino close to significant Chinese populations has been a major topic of conversation

About 1.2 million people of Asian descent currently live in New York City, the highest of any US city. In certain meetings during the year between casino operators and potential business partners, the topic of having a casino close to significant Chinese populations has been a major topic of conversation, according to the New York Times sources. Many casinos in the state already have buses running to their properties from areas that have high Asian populations.

A big focus for operators

The New York Times outlined how certain casinos have marketing departments focused specifically on Asian people, with some properties tailoring their entertainment and food options to appeal to Asian American families. There were even instances pre-pandemic of US casinos flying VIP gamblers first class from the likes of Taipei and Singapore.

more likely to be susceptible to casino advertising

A report last year funded by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) saw that social isolation and stress that working-class immigrants from Asia experience make them more likely to be susceptible to casino advertising. Many respondents to the study said that casinos are their only available entertainment option and that a lot of people borrow money to keep gambling.