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Title:Gambling and the Law: A Study of the Utility of Gambling and Its Prohibition in an American Chinatown
Author(s):Kagawa, Lily Siu
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Abstract:Legal moralisms, such as gambling prohibitions, have long been established in American law. This dissertation explored in general, the rational and utility of gambling prohibitions, as well as their application in an ethnic community. In an overview of gambling in the United States, the development of and politics underlying gambling laws and the claims and documentation of harms from gambling were examined. Some positive functions of gambling, such as to provide recreation, the achievement of status and social integration, were delineated. A review of the costs, effect, and feasibilities of gambling enforcement was undertaken and concluded that public tolerance, the pervasiveness of the games, and the perception of harmlessness have undermined the implementation of the law. Furthermore, threats to legal protections, the creation of adverse public attitudes toward the law, and the provision of lucrative profits for syndicates, with which they use for public corruption, culminate to suggest that the costs of gambling laws are not commensurate with the good effects derived. Alternatives to the use of the criminal law to control gambling were recommended.
These ideas were applied in an examination of gambling and the effects of gambling laws upon the Chinese in the United States in first, a historical instance among Chinese immigrants in the last century, and second, a field study of current effects. In the historical survey, the research outlined the gambling activities, and their nature and functions. An association between gambling and criminal organization was developed, and the use of gambling enforcement to discredit and harass the immigrants, as part of the anti-Chinese agitation in the west, was shown.
Currently, gambling in an American Chinatown was studied through participant observations of social games in the home and at a social club, and interviews of community members as well as enforcement and judicial personnel, in order to discover the nature, scope, and meaning of gambling for participants. Functions similar to those in the larger society were found, and similar problems in enforcement arose as well. However, the enforcement situation was aggravated by a communications and cultural gap between the police and the community, inadequate personnel, resources and techniques to deal with crime in a minority neighborhood, and public anxieties about the police. Gambling enforcement highlighted the police intrusions and was a focus of popular resentment. While gambling was not found to create any substantial harm among players and produced some benefits, the significant ill effects from enforcement showed the disutility of criminalizing relatively harmless immoralities in a plural society.
Issue Date:1983
Description:349 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8324584
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1983

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