Among New York’s Bangladeshis, a Boom in Underground Gambling


With the economy in a coma, members of the city’s working class immigrant community have been hit hard in various ways. In Woodside, Queens, for instance, some unemployed Latino day laborers have taken to sleeping in the streets. Among the Bangladeshi community, remittances home have plummeted. And according to the Bangla newspaper Weekly Thikana, increasing numbers of Bengali immigrants are turning to gambling to supplement their income.

In the article translated into English by The New York Community Media Alliance, the paper claims illegal gambling joints have popped up in basements and the backs of grocery stores in Kensington, Brooklyn (also home to some great Bengali food) and various Queens neighborhoods, including Jackson Heights and Ozone Park.

Earlier this month, three members of a local community organization were arrested, presumably for gambling. And in a police roundup a few years back, the article claims the NYPD arrested nearly 30 Bangladeshi gamblers, and “tied them up with rope around their waists and sent them to court.”

Strangely enough, the only gambler interviewed in the article sounded like it was more lonesomeness than poverty that drove him to the tables: “We have been addicted to gambling out of mental ache,” he said. “We have no green card, no work, so what else do we have than this gambling to spend our time?”