Maryland Live's website is available in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. It advertises in those languages in niche newspapers and specialty publications to attract Asian gamblers and shore up their patronage ahead of coming competition.
The casino offers translators and "hosts" to its Asian clients, and puts all of its staff through "Asian cultural awareness training," Norton said.
"We try to explain and educate our team members who may not be well-versed on the cultural differences through their day-to-day lives, on what those differences may be and how to interpret them and how to handle them," Norton said.
When handing an Asian customer a business card, for example, the custom is to do so with both hands, Norton said.
"It's a small thing, but it's a sign of respect," he said.
A majority of Maryland Live's Asian players are first- and second-generation Asian-Americans from Maryland and surrounding states, but the casino also draws foreign tourists, Norton said. He declined to say what percentage of Maryland Live revenue is attributable to Asian players. The casino generated more than $586 million in revenue in 2013.
Some researchers, such as Donald Black, a psychiatry professor at the University of Iowa, have conducted studies showing that problem gambling can pass through families just as traditions of luck and chance can, which raises concerns. Maryland has a program that allows individuals to place themselves on a list that bans them from playing in the state and serves as an extra barrier of red tape between them and an undesired urge to play.
Many in the Asian-American community say gambling is no new threat, but a tradition rooted in the culture of their native countries, where games of chance and a belief in luck and fortune have a long history. Certain numbers and colors can be deemed lucky or unlucky, for example, making a casino the ideal venue to test out such notions.
Bringing in Asian artists and DJs, such as Johnny Ip, also draws customers.
"There's been amazing entertainment — they'll bring in a famous DJ or musical performer from Korea," said Charley Sung, 38, an attorney who lives in Columbia and has attended Chang's networking events at Maryland Live.
Sung's wife, Heidi, 35, a stockbroker who now stays home with their two young sons, said the casino offers the kind of night life experience that seems familiar to Asian Americans.
"You get a table, you order drinks — it's like the Asian clubbing style," she said of the networking parties. "You get vouchers that you can use for the slots, and it's fun."