GANGNEUNG, Sept. 12 (Korea Bizwire) – A report from the Korea Center on Gambling Problems has revealed that 19 percent of the 939 university students taking part in the study suffered from gambling-related issues at an average age of 18.9 years old.
Conducted by the Center’s Gangwon Province Branch and given to students within the Gangneung area, the study’s results are troubling as a similar study conducted on adults by the National Gambling Control Commission last year returned a prevalence rate of 5.1 percent, nearly one-fourth the rate among the university students.
When asked when they had first gambled, 22.5 percent of the university students answered middle school, and 42.7 percent answered high school.
The students generally began through online gambling and Go-Stop, a Korean card game using hwatu cards, and moved on to various card games. By the time they were in their teens, they had even dabbled in illegal gambling.
More males (21.6 percent) than females (7.2 percent) were found to be struggling with gambling problems.
Of the respondents, 7.3 percent stated that they had won at least 1 million won through gambling.
Probable causes for youth gambling have been attributed to the lack of suitable teenage activities, the development of smartphones and the ease of access to illegal gambling websites.
Many of the respondents said that they had followed their friends into gambling, and their friends’ lack of shame or guilt regarding the activity had led them to continue their gambling habits.
Others responded that they had bet as much as 500,000 won in one go, while others confessed that they had committed acts of fraud on online secondhand markets to earn money.
Despite the need for preemptive measures, currently only 1,000 students at six schools in the entire province of Gangwon have partaken in gambling educational programs organized by the Korean Center on Gambling Problems.
Gangwon Center Director Jang Hyo Gang stressed the importance of parental involvement in discouraging gambling among teenagers. “If parents pay particular attention to their children’s bank accounts and phone bills, it will help in warding off gambling addiction,” she said.