Why Do Many Chinatown Residents Oppose A Casino In Their Backyard? It Goes Way Back

Written By Matt Boecker on May 3, 2022Last Updated on May 4, 2022
rivers chinatown

While some residents of Illinois are excited about a casino in Chicago, others are worried about its potential effects on their community.

Leaders in Chinatown are increasingly concerned, particularly about the potential opening of a new casino in their vicinity.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her administration are currently considering three casinos: Hard Rock One Central near Soldier Field, Bally’s Chicago near River North, and Rivers 78 near Chinatown.

Despite the fact that the city has previously faced backlash over the potential opening of a new casino, community members in Chinatown have recently expressed concerns about the potential harm it could cause to their neighborhood. This is especially true if Rivers 78 is chosen to spearhead the casino’s opening procedures.

Grace Chan McKibben, the Executive Director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC), believes that casinos may exploit Chinatown’s residents due to their cultural composition.

In an email to Play Illinois, she stated:

Casinos pose a threat to all vulnerable groups, encompassing the elderly, youths, low-income individuals, refugees, and people of color. Those who can ill afford to part with their funds are often the most susceptible, as they may view gambling as a quick means to gain money. This belief persists despite the reality that gambling and gaming machines are designed to make one lose sense of time and money.

the background of playing and the Chinese population

McKibben referenced the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which forbade immigrant labourers from bringing their kin to the United States.

Consequently, many Chinese immigrants began to play for leisure. This would significantly influence Chinatown and Chinese Americans in the following years.

McKibben stated that the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has only recently started to allocate funds for the treatment of gambling addiction. She asserted that the current funds are used for counseling individuals with gambling addictions. However, she emphasized the need for additional funding to conduct research, determine the root causes of the problem, and implement proven solutions to help those struggling with gambling issues.

McKibben suggests that Chicago and Lightfoot should protect the following organizations for vulnerable gamblers:

  • racial and ethnic groups
  • Low-income neighborhoods
  • communities of immigrants
  • Seniors
  • Youth

She remarked:

“I am of the opinion that laws prohibiting or limiting forceful promotion strategies by casinos, betting platforms, video gaming sites, and so on could significantly contribute to raising public awareness about the potential dangers of gambling addiction. Additionally, they could provide financial support for counseling programs aimed at all susceptible communities.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has demonstrated some initiative in addressing the problem of gambling addiction throughout Illinois, also known as the Land of Lincoln. In 2020, the agency initiated a year-long study on gambling addiction across the state.

The study’s findings should be made public without delay. The IDHS anticipates that these findings will assist in pinpointing problems and preventing any issues from arising.

Lightfoot will reveal the winning bidder for this summer’s Chicago game.

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Boecker, Matt

Matt Boecker, a 2020 Northern Illinois University graduate from Chicago, is known for his specialization in sports betting and legalization coverage. His former coworkers and teammates speak highly of him, describing him as a hardworking, amiable individual who is passionate about the game.

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