It was the first time some of the women had committed a criminal offence.
Dr Le said she believed the number of Vietnamese women in prison for drug offences had continued to increase since she completed her research.
As part of the Swinburne University research, Roslyn Le interviewed almost every Vietnamese woman serving a Victorian prison sentence for a drug offence.
With Royce Millar
But Dr Le found the women jailed for crop sitting did not know who owned the crops, and that those behind the drug operations were usually removed from the people the women had met at the casino.
Vietnam-born prisoners represent the highest number of Victorian prisoners born outside of Australia.
Crown Casino declined to comment on banning notices or crime at the venue.
Professor Michael Gilding, the Swinburne University business and law faculty executive dean, said that Dr Le’s research, which he supervised, suggested a failure of authorities to punish those at the top of organised crime networks.
More than a third of all people banned from the casino by police are believed to be Vietnamese, including some convicted of money laundering and drug offences.
During Operation Taxa, one of Victoria Police’s largest operations targeting cannabis cultivation, officers said Vietnamese crime families were responsible for the vast majority of grow houses.
Another woman, Nhu, said that once she was in prison, she realised the futility of committing a drug offence to pay a debt of only $35,000.
Some of them had started gambling to pay the debts of their husbands, who sometimes had second families in Vietnam that placed further strain on their finances.
“I really respect and abide by the laws here. I’ve tried to avoid everything in the past but I just couldn’t avoid gambling.”
When the women were unable to repay the loans, they were offered the chance to import heroin as drug mules or “crop sit” at a marijuana grow house.
The women had debts of between $30,000 and $1 million when they were offered loans by other Vietnamese gamblers at the casino’s blackjack, baccarat or poker tables, a study has found.
Vietnamese women jailed in record numbers for drug offences say they turned to crime to pay gambling debts suffered at Crown Casino.
She found that, in 2011, about one in five women in Victorian prisons was Vietnamese. They are a conveyor belt of people being provided through the casino.”
One prisoner officer joked to Dr Le about the sharp increase in Vietnamese women in prison, saying the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Victoria’s largest prison for women, would have to be renamed “the Dame Phyllis Nguyen Centre”.
Fifteen of the women said casino gambling debts were to blame for their offending, and Dr Le found that three other women also had gambling debts that they did not report.. She interviewed 35 of the women, 20 of whom were imprisoned for heroin trafficking and 15 for cannabis cultivation.
“If there was no casino, us Vietnamese would not be so miserable,” one of the women, Nguyet, said.
Most had gone to the casino to socialise, as Vietnamese women typically did not go to places such as gyms or bars, but soon became addicted to gambling.
Dr Le found that the women were expected to pay the debts of their husbands or partners because of extreme gender inequality in Vietnamese culture, as demonstrated by proverbs such as “one hundred women are not worth a single testicle”.
More than a third of all people banned from the casino by police are believed to be Vietnamese. Four years earlier, that figure was one in 20.
The study, Risky Business, found that the women had to pay 10 per cent interest every week on their loans.
“These women are at the bottom end of the food chain.
There were 43 Vietnamese women in Victorian prisons for drug offences when Dr Le started her research in November 2010