Why gambling is so prevalent in Minnesota’s Lao community — and what’s being done to address its downside

Throughout the decades Sunny Chanthanouvong has served his Lao community in Minnesota, he wanted to solve one widespread problem that has had crippling financial and social effects on many Lao-Americans: obsessive gambling.

“Gambling is in our blood,” he said. “We gamble at casinos. Homes. Temples. Wedding parties. Graduation parties. Think of any social gathering, and people are gambling there as well.”

As the executive director of the north Minneapolis-based Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, Chanthanouvong has worked with people who lost their savings, jobs and children as a result of their addiction to gambling.     

Those who succumbed to the addiction, said Chanthanouvong, included his relatives and close friends, who have lost young children to the child protection services after leaving them home alone for gambling.

Over the years, Chanthanouvong has been working with state agencies, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to secure funding and create a plan to help raise awareness about the excessive gambling that has taken root in the Lao-American community.

Continue reading here.