DAEGU, March 6 (Korea Bizwire) – Recent data suggests that violent crimes related to gambling are on the rise. Gambling addiction is become an increasingly important social issue, as casinos and sports or internet gambling are becoming popular regardless of age.
Experts point out that while gambling addiction itself should be treated, measures must also be taken to solve fundamental social issues such as the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Recent incidents lend credence to the theory that gambling disputes can lead to violent crimes.
Kim (62) was arrested for stabbing Hwang (59) multiple times after he lost money during a gambling session at a barber’s shop.
This month, the lifeless bodies of a woman referred to as A (40, female) and her daughter (15) were discovered by the police. The two victims had been stabbed by A’s husband ‘B’ (46), who suffered from a gambling addiction. B was apprehended after a botched suicide attempt near a casino in Jeongseon, and was admitted to a government facility to receive treatment for his condition. Up to his neck in debt, B threw himself from the roof of the hospital before he was able to benefit from treatment.
While the number of violent crimes related to gambling is continuously increasing, the number of gambling addicts is also showing no sign of decrease.
According to data collected by the Korea Center on Gambling Problems (KCGP) in 2014, an estimated 5.4 percent of the 38.2 million Koreans over the age of 20 were said to be suffering from an addiction to gambling. Among the addicts, 1.5 million (3.9 percent) were estimated to be at moderate risk, and 570,000 (1.5 percent) were classified as suffering from a ‘problematic’ addiction.
Observers comment that the prolonged period of economic stagnation in Korea has played an important role in the increase in the number of gambling addicts.
Experts say that increasing economic inequality is driving the poor into various addictions such as substance abuse and gambling. They add that the U.S. suffers from even worse addiction problems compared to Korea, while Japan is relatively better off.
Both gamblers and addiction experts say that the temptation of a quick payoff is instrumental in enticing the financially vulnerable. There is also evidence that depression sufferers select gambling as a means to escape reality.
Gamblers who win large sums of money after placing small bets are often at the greatest risk of addiction. The initial success creates an aura of invincibility that is quickly eclipsed by the inevitable losses that follow. Trapped in a vicious cycle, addicts try to cover their losses by borrowing money, only to lose more and plunge further into debt.
The adage that ‘the house always wins’ when it comes to gambling is easily forgotten. One is destined to not only squander money, but also lose family and friends.
Experts also highlight the importance of aggressive action by family in friends in helping addicts treat their illness, while noting that improved prevention programs are also a must.
Most important, however, are renewed efforts to solve some of the underlying issues gripping society, so that the anger built up among the disenfranchised is not expressed through addiction. Spending quality time with family is also said to be of critical importance, as strong family bonds can help gamblers from succumbing to temptation.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)