South Korea is seeing a concerning rise in gambling among teenagers. While iGaming is strictly prohibited in the country, young players often find ways to circumvent the rules and restrictions.
Unfortunately, the rise of online gambling among younger players also means that addiction treatment institutions are struggling to provide services to all affected players. In fact, the National Center for Youth Internet Addiction Treatment is the only establishment that offers such programs.
The center is run by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and offers 12-day rehabilitation programs for people struggling with gambling addiction. To help patients cope with the absence of gambling and overcome their addiction, the program offers a variety of activities, including sports and playing music. However, the program fails to hold the attention of many younger participants.
Shim Yong-chool, the center’s director, told The Korea Herald that despite the short duration of the program, many teenagers fail to complete it and quit early. For example, he noted that only 12 of the 17 recently admitted teens managed to complete the entire program.
This shows that the center, which opened in 2015, is struggling to help the increasing number of problem players.
Young Players Are More Prone to Becoming Addicted Shim noted that many young addicts fail to resist their urges. In addition, the proliferation of online gambling continues to highlight the need to reinforce South Korea’s capacity to deal with gambling harm.
Data shows that the number of teenagers being treated for gambling addiction has skyrocketed by 75% in just four years. In addition, the National Police Agency’s recent crackdown on online gambling saw 353 people arrested, 39 of whom were juveniles. Survey shows that some 28,838 are at risk of developing gambling problems.
According to Lee Hae-kook, a professor from the Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, teenagers are a very vulnerable demographic because they are already immersed in the digital sector. Internet access from an early age increases their chance of coming across gambling content and starting to gamble themselves.
According to Lee Byung-chul, a professor from Hallym University College of Medicine’s Department of Neurology, gambling addiction, even if treated fairly quickly, can cause serious problems in young people’s neurological development. According to him, the state needs to fund systems that connect schools, mental health institutions and youth facilities.