Problem Gambling in Southeast Asian Communities

The Minnesota Department of Human Services partnered with the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota to explore problem gambling awareness within Twin Cities Southeast Asian communities.

In-depth storytelling is valued in the culture, which resulted in a video that depicts a family’s dynamics and struggles with a member who is consumed by a gambling problem.


In faith communities, leaders have an opportunity to offer meaningful help and guidance during difficult times. Gambling problems can be very serious, but can also be overcome with the right tools, care, and support. Leaders and members of the faith community are often in a unique position to observe a potential gambling problem. The following signs can be indicative of problem gambling:

  • Gambling longer than planned
  • Gambling until the last dollar is gone
  • Thoughts of gambling preoccupy daily life
  • Bills begin to go unpaid
  • Attempts to stop gambling are unsuccessful
  • Criminal activity to fuel gambling
  • Borrowing money from friends and family
  • Feelings of depression or suicide after losing
  • Feelings of remorse after gambling
  • Gambling to meet financial obligations

There are several ways that faith communities can address a gambling problem:

  • Educate youth regarding risk factors, signs of a gambling problem, prevention and how to access help
  • Include articles or information in a weekly bulletin or newsletter
  • Utilize display boards to post educational materials
  • Include the Problem Gambling Helpline number on appropriate materials
  • Incorporate problem gambling into any existing substance abuse education and awareness programs
  • Host Gambler’s Anonymous and/or Gam-Anon meetings
  • Develop a company gambling policy that is consistently enforced

Find a counselor to work with in your area or have materials sent to you in order to better equip your organization and help start the conversation.


College Students

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, approximately 75 percent of college students spend time and money gambling, both legally and illegally. About 18 percent gamble weekly, and of those, 6 percent have a gambling disorder.

Lottery tickets and pull-tabs, card games (including raffles and charitable small stakes gambling), sports betting pools and games of skill (e.g., bowling, basketball, pool, golf, backgammon, darts) are the most frequently chosen gambling activities by college students.

As campus administrators, faculty, and staff, implementing policies and promoting campus-wide awareness of college problem gambling can help maintain a healthy campus and enable students who are struggling with a potential problem to receive the support they need.

Students who face problem gambling in college are more susceptible to participate in self-deprecating activities such as using illegal drugs, driving under the influence and other risk-oriented behaviors.