Recent stories in the Associated Press (Casinos Winning Big by Betting on Asians) and The Boston Globe (Out of luck - The Boston Globe) have reported that casinos such as Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, both located in Connecticut, are aggressively marketing to the Asian community by offering inexpensive transportation, food and gambling coupons, along with traditional Asian gambling games. They also sponsor community activities and advertise in ethnic media. Experts in gambling addiction are concerned that targeting the Asian community so aggressively crosses a line and could be damaging the community.
Is it wrong for casinos to target one ethnic community so aggressively? Or is this simply smart marketing that seems to be working effectively? What do you think?
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Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (The Right Thing Book from amazon.com ), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of http://www.jeffreyseglin.com, a Web log focused on ethical issues.
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I get your column in the Windsor Star and enjoy it. In today's column you talk about targeting Asians for gambling. What about the Boyd Group in Las Vegas which has been marketing to Hawaiians for years, to the point they have travel agencies in Hawaii catering to Vegas/Boyd charters. It must work well, in particular the downtown properties such as the California and Fremont are full of folks from there.
Seems to me like just good marketing.
I was dismayed when then-governor Weicker allowed casinos to be built in CT in the first place, and the destructive effect they had on friends and neighbors. Casinos are as inherently immoral as any tobacco company, in my mind; they design their product to be as addictive as possible, and
feed off the weakness of their clientele (I am of course not talking about the casual or holiday gamer, but the addicts who are the bread and butter of these institutions). Marketing games to a particular ethnic group reminds me of similar disreputable practices by cigarette companies, but the immorality of this practice seems slight to me
compared to the horror local, easily-accessible gambling inflicts generally.
Jason Wiener, West Hartford, CT
the issue of targeting a minority group with generic marketing is age old. marketing, as a practice, is the idea of finding a susceptible demographic and convincing them that a product or practice is exactly what they have been looking for. think of all those children whose unknowing mothers buy them kids meals with healthy apple slices, whole milk, and deep-fried-52-grams-of-fat chicken fingers. Its sneaky, it causes childrens obesity and diabetes, but wow does it ever sell kids meals.
We can't fault the casinos for pressing their advantage with a certain demographic. It's a free market. Anyone who thinks the gambling industry is damaging to our society should seek a resolution with the industry as a whole. We can't pick and choose which people to defend from an industry's marketing plan. If gambling ads are so bad then we should regulate them across the board.
I think the "Asian" bit is a red herring. If the effective marketing
of gambling has detrimental effects, it really doesn't matter what group is being targeted. The real question is whether there ought to be any marketing at all; I don't have a problem with it, but there are reasonable positions on both sides. Let's just try to avoid obfuscating it with racial insinuations, shall we?
East Boston, MA
All marketing targets specific groups, whether wide groups or small groups. Marketing may target by income level, education level, age, geographic area, shopping history as provided by "membership or 'discount' cards", or by ethnic group. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? It's probably some of both: lets us know about products and sales and services we might be interested in, or leads us into temptation. But it's up to us to make the decisions.....we are not sheep. Or are we?
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