Several Asian American seniors in New York reportedly ride the casino buses to Pennsylvania daily, not to gamble, but simply to make ends meet, an investigative news report found.
Buses ferrying people to the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania are carrying a number of elderly Asian Americans every day who intend to earn a few dollars from the ride, ABC Eyewitness News reported.
The seniors who take the bus to the casino regularly automatically receive a $45 credit each upon their arrival. Instead of using the credit to gamble, they sell them to actual gambling patrons for just $38. Since the bus ride costs $20, they net themselves a mere $18 profit at the end of the day.
Some of the seniors who take the dozen buses that leave for the Sands Casino daily don’t even have homes. All of them reportedly live below the poverty line.
Sang Ki Chun of Flushing in Queens, is among the approximately 300-400 seniors who are looking for a few bucks while taking the four-hour round trip ride on any given day. Upon arrival, they would then sell their tickets and wait for the next ride back in a waiting room for about five hours.
He admits that the times have been tough on him and taking the casino bus simply means putting food on his plate. He explained in Korean how he’d sell his casino credit to fellow passengers who would use it to gamble.
At over 25%, Asian-Americans in the city have the highest level of poverty among any ethnic group, according to the Mayor’s Office of Operations.
“That story of the population that’s struggling does not really get told,” New York State Assembly member Ron Kim, said. “They don’t want to step forward and admit, hey I’m in a situation where I need some help. It’s a cultural barrier.”
Because of this, poverty amongst Asian Americans is often not seen. Chris Kui of Asian Americans for Equality, told ABC:
“They are hidden homeless, that they are doubling up or tripling up living in these cubicles…that they share with ten people within a one bedroom apartment for example.”