The marketing of gambling to the Latinx community raises unaddressed concerns

21 March 2024

The marketing of gambling in new ways aimed at specific communities has become increasingly popular in the gambling industry. A recent New York Times piece suggested that gambling ads should be regulated or banned. Specific marketing approaches were highlighted in a recent Associated Press article entitled, “Panel says the next generation of online gambling will be more social, engaged and targeted.” According to that piece, Chief executive Seth Schorr of Las Vegas-based Fifth Street Gaming planned to launch “a Latino-themed online social casino using his platform … , using the Spanish word for ‘boss.’”

“It is a shamefully underserved market,” Schorr said in the article. “There are 64 million Americans who identify as Latino with a purchasing power of $3.5 trillion dollars. It’s something I’ve been executing in a land-based casino for 15 years. We have put together a brand that speaks to the language, the culture, the influencers.”

Gambling in the Latinx community has been examined in research literature. One study found a gambling disorder rate among Latino American veterans at four times the expectation of the general population. A 2024 study commissioned by a marketing and customer service agency found 54% of the Hispanic population had placed a sports bet, compared with the 43% national average. There is some research evidence that Latinx populations may have higher rates of gambling issues, but there are few studies that examine the Latinx community.

Schorr’s Land Based Casino (Ojos Locos Sports Cntina y Casin) video discusses marketing to blue collar customers and expansion to social casino games, online gambling that simulates casino games (e.g. poker, slots, roulette, etc.). Inherently interactive and social, this is capitalizing on the need for community in the Latinx population. This is particularly relevant in cities with a smaller concentration of Latinx community members, as in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

An ethos of masculinity

“Jefe” is a powerful and manly word. The use of Jefe suggests the gambling product is marketed toward men, evoking a sense of pride. The “American dream” is an essential financial goal of many community members. In parts of the Latinx community, there are deeply rooted values that men are bosses in the household, so the use of Jefe evokes gambling with power and pride. In considering sports betting, the community may want to think about “unidad con los ojos abiertos.” The phrase translates to unity, with eyes open.

In the Latinx community, loneliness is less acceptable to discuss, and often goes unspoken. Social casino games may provide community members with a sense they are collectively working together to essentially beat the game, while each are individually winning, and that may align with community values around collective success. People from the community may value gambling with others, leading to a sense of pride for the community.

Sports betting is culturally rooted; sometimes traditional forms of betting may involve chicken fights and horse races. It can be common to see competitive culture in the Latinx community. Community members strongly identify with sports teams, and team wins can represent a sense of personal and collective pride. Betting is often embedded into the Latinx cultural scene.

While little research has been done to estimate rates of betting in the community locally, there is some evidence that betting may be common. For youth, betting can be seen as normalized. Sports betting is very popular with Latinx men. For some who work in blue collar jobs, there is the perception that one has additional disposable income to gamble. Betting can sometimes be seen as a way to make more money and create financial stability. While gambling may be popular, there is less general knowledge about how artificial intelligence is applied in the context of mobile betting apps.

Help with problem gambling

In Latinx communities, seeking mental health treatment is often seen as a sign of weakness. Religion is a safe space or an alternative to seeking mental health treatment. Language and adjustment stress from immigration represent barriers to treatment. It is particularly taboo for men to seek help or admit a problem, which may be an indicator of not being self-sufficient. Admitting you have a mental health problem or addiction may be viewed as a negative reflection on your masculinity. Community members may be less likely to seek treatment for problem gambling because gambling is so common and may not be widely viewed as a problem.

While the word Jefe evokes masculinity and power, it may be that masculinity leads to a barrier to seeking help with one’s gambling.

Wendy Garcia Rojas is a resident of Hennepin County and an aspiring future mental health professional. Serena King is a professor and chair of the Psychology Department at Hamline University and a clinical psychologist in St. Paul.

The post The marketing of gambling to the Latinx community raises unaddressed concerns appeared first on MinnPost.

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