In a recent SWAT team raid, two Laotian sisters, both collecting housing subsidies and welfare payments, were arrested for breaking American gambling laws by running an illegal lottery, which catered to mostly Thai and Laotian immigrants. The raid has taken place in Honolulu, Hawaii.
According to local sources, the sisters were selling illegal lottery tickets where the players were able to buy two sets of lottery numbers for $10. Each set contained two or three numbers. If one of the sets of numbers matched the Thai lottery, the winner would get a $700 award, while two matched sets would bring $5,000, a huge payout for a poor immigrant working illegally for $3 an hour.
While living in a subsidized apartment complex, reserved for the poor and needy Hawaiian residents, the sisters raked in large sums of money, which would be untraceable, except that the residents notified the police of suspected activities, and of the fact that she sisters frequently changed cars, while driving such luxury brands as BMWs and Mercedes Benzes.
Illegal lottery tickets are not the only gambling devices poor immigrants in America buy. Some of them turn to underground poker rooms, hoping to sweep the table.
Others, more technologically astute, open internet betting accounts and pursue a variety of games such as blackjack, poker, bingo, online slots, roulette, or craps.
The evidence, nevertheless, indicates that the preferred method of gambling among the Asian immigrants is to visit the underground betting dens, often run by their countrymen, in places known as Chinatowns, although by no means these neighborhoods are exclusively populated by the Chinese.
The issue with this becomes a problem if the unaware bettors end up gambling with mafia. Any gambling debts are quickly collected, or the victims end up as personal slaves for years to pay off the money borrowed plus interest.
Indeed, many of the smuggled immigrants end up as slaves in the first place as they need to pay large sums of money to end up in America anyway. Some, seeking an easy way out to repay the debts turn into illegal gambling, only to lose more and be enslaved for longer.