Asians and Gambling


While I was on vacation in Puerto Rico, I met a casino dealer who works in Fresno, California. I was just stepping out of San Juan hotel casino after getting back all the money I had lost during the first couple of days of my trip. We became close friends as we had many connections. I was once into gambling but successfully got out of it and it was my first time having a dealer as a “close friend.” One of the topics that kept us awake until early in the morning was of course “gambling.” I have to say, I spent most of my time gambling in Puerto Rico which I never intended to do. One of the questions she asked me was “why do so many Asians get easily addicted to gambling?” I’ve always thought about it and there are studies that reveal why but I’d like to put my insight on it. I lived in Seoul, Korea for six years quite recently and South Koreans are not allowed in Seoul casinos due to the fact that Koreans become aggreesive when it comes to gambling. I am a Canadian citizen so I was able to go anytime I wanted. A lot of gamblers in Seoul are Korean-American women and they come everyday as long as their husbands are at work. They are the ones who regularly pull cash from the ATM. One lady told me that her husband still doesn’t know she had nearly lost 100,000 dollars. She was very worried that he will find out soon.
Koreans are usually hard-working people and that’s why South Korea is economically well off although there is lack of natural resources as not one drip of oil is produced. When you take the subway, it’s always a battle as to who gets in first and people are willing to stand on the bus for hours just to go to work – although many Koreans don’t struggle financially. Often times, Korean employees have to work overnight and not get paid for it and have to drink on a regular basis, even on a daily basis in certain cases. Many of them are forced to drink and they will just do what their boss say. Koreans are very determined that way and all this stress makes Koreans hot-tempered and the fact that Korea ranks number one in suicide rates among OECD countries is no longer surprising. Going back to the casino tables, Koreans tend to show uncontrollable rage and determination to win. One other thing I’d lilke to mention is that in Korean society and some other Asian countries, people also tend to hide their feelings and avoid strangers at all cost. Here in San Francisco or anywhere in the United States, it is not very hard to see strangers becoming “friends” on their way to work or at a bus stop. People open doors for you and say “thank you”, “sorry”, “hi” all the time. If you do this in Korea and many other countries in Asia, they will give you a very strange look and sometimes they’ll run away if you start talking to them. What I am trying to say is that for many Asians, everything happens within themselves. In other words, there is always that huge secrecy whether it be between female friends, or between a parent and a 30 year-old son – type of secrecy that Americans would not understand as to why keep it as a secret. When it comes to gambling, it’s between you and the cards and that’s all there’s to it. It plays as another “secret thing you can do” while avoiding unnecessary encounters with anybody. This is where the hidden rage comes out as they start to lose money. Koreans usually don’t have much time for leisure activities and in Seoul, there are rarely any grass fields where you can play sports. So when Koreans come to the casino table, it becomes a sport. A sport that you need to win and conquer like the way their boss conquers them. I personally think we need to understand social structure, ethics, and cultures of Asian countries in order to solve their gambling addiction.


~ by wesleycho on September 16, 2009.

One Response to “Asians and Gambling”

  1. Love the article buddy! Korean Rage! So funny…

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