DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! Philadelphia, Show Us Some Brotherly Love

November 14th, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen
Slut, er, Slot Machine

Asians love to gamble. Which is probably the most prominent exception to the rule that we are risk-averse. My grandmother, at 89, still plays mah-jong for money. One uncle of mine plays so much mah-jong that he can tell what tile he has in his hand by touch. A college roommate and dear friend of mine, who is Japanese-American, made her first trip to Atlantic City when she was 11 or 12, because her mother wanted to show her how to make fast cash in case she was ever in trouble in life. To this day, this friend consistently kills at a card table.

Casinos know and exploit this fact. They have marketing offices in Chinatowns and Asian-American communities around the country that offer free shit to would-be gamblers, from shuttle bus rides to the nearest casino to luxury hotel suites within. Foxwoods Casino is taking this idea one step further by bringing a casino to Philadelphia’s Chinatown, despite community resistance. State and city officials have already okayed plans to build a 3,000-slot-machine-casino there, in a community that, according to the AP, has lost 25% of its land in the last 50 years to public projects.

“We’re just tired of having to fight these battles over and over again,” said Deborah Wei, principal of a 400-student charter school built on land where the (rejected baseball) stadium would have risen. “We are a small community that’s been disproportionately hit by these projects.”

Foxwoods’ response to community concerns has been predictably bullshit and venal. Foxwoods spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said that the casino has a program to promote “responsible gambling” and is working with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, whatever that means.

“While addiction is certainly not limited to any one race or ethnic group, we recognize the concerns of the Chinatown community,” she said.

Riiiiight. In other words, Gambling addiction isn’t limited to any one race or ethnic group, but we sure hope it is! Ka-Ching-Chong!

Look, we love to gamble just like the next (Asian) person. When I emailed Diana about this story this morning, she wrote back, “That is a pretty crap situasian, even if my mom would be at that casino in a Philly heartbeat.” Most of our moms would; in fact, Foxwoods is counting on it, and therein lies the problem. This is a tiny, eight-block neighborhood in Philly we’re talking about here. There’s a charter elementary school there (where 65% of the student body is Asian), which means many children will be exposed to gambling at a very young age. And it’s slot machine-gambling, where the odds of winning are completely determined by luck rather than skill. Also, there’s no real evidence that casino revenue actually helps communities develop and flourish in the long-run. Is this fast cash really worth the gamble, Philadelphia?

To learn more about the fight in Philly, click here for Asian Americans United.

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