Video Gambling in Vietnamese Cafes: An Observational Study of "Hot Line" Machines in Southern California

Tomson H. Nguyen, California State University - Long Beach
John Z. Wang, California State University - Long Beach

Illegal gambling in local Vietnamese clubs and cafes has been a concern of law enforcement since the mid 1990s, especially in the little Saigon area of southern California. During recent years, gambling in these cafes has taken on a whole different meaning. Today, Vietnamese cafes employ sophisticated electronic poker machines that are not only hard to detect, but also very profitable. This study is the first to examine the phenomenon of illegal gambling in Vietnamese cafes in southern California. Many aspects of this issue were investigated including the workings of the unique gambling machines, the operation of these gambling businesses, as well as the social structure within Vietnamese cafes. Data for this study were collected throughout a 12 week period of covert observations with the owner, gamblers, and regulars of the cafe were the primary source of data. The research findings provided, in detail, the workings of the unique gambling devices. The study also reported how gambling games are initiated, how cash transactions are handled, as well as the different types of patrons that frequent the care.

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Updated 05/20/2006