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“Start Offending for Debt”: Gambling Teens, Hows and Whys
  • By Kim Sugyung,editor-in-cheif
  • 승인 2023.11.20 23:46
  • 호수 326
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▲ Teens addicted to online gambling (Source: Yonhap News)

The number of online gambling addicts in teens has sharply increased, caused by increasing remote learning and screen time after the COVID- 19 pandemic. The point is that teens who are addicted to gambling are offending to raise funds for their gambling habit. Most of them start to spend personal debt, whose interest rate makes no sense at all, then eventually commit a secondary crime to clear off the insurmountable debt. Meanwhile, online gambling sites are designed to inevitably make gamblers lose all their money, as the operators can manipulate the outcomes. However, the teens brain, undergoing growth and development, struggles to regulate impulses properly. Consequently, youths easily fall prey to gambling, leading to the commission of crimes.

There were 130 cases reported last year where adolescents were arrested for committing crimes to fund their gambling. The level of crimes, committed by adolescents addicted to gambling, was remarkably high. The current head of the school's administration at a middle school stated, "He [referring to a gambling teen] arranges prostitution with his friends," and mentioned, "When you trace it back to its roots, there are connections to gambling." Choi Hwan- hee, the dedicated police officer at Seoul Seodaemun School, responded, "Since it's not easy for adolescents to work directly to earn money, there are cases where they receive money through second- hand fraudulent dealing and use that money for gambling. Alternatively, some resort to theft." Some of them are resorting to borrowing from loan sharks and drowning in debt. Teenager A, who has experienced online gambling addiction, began betting using loans because his allowance couldn't cover it. A stated, "When you borrow money, you usually have to pay interest at 2 or 3 times the amount," and added, "If you borrow 1 million won, it can swell to 1.5 million won in just two weeks." Some adolescents, burdened by exorbitant interest rates, find themselves in a mountain of debt, and in some cases, the overwhelming pressure has led to instances of suicide.

Why are so many teens addicted to gambling? A high school first- grader, Student B, who has experienced an online gambling addiction, mentioned, "If you have memories of making money, the thought of 'I made money before, so I can make even more later' keeps you going." Once adolescents start gambling, the risk of addiction significantly increases. The primary factor that makes it easy for adolescents to encounter and start gambling is the widespread use of smartphones. With the proliferation of smartphones, individuals can access illegal gambling sites anytime, anywhere, without having to go to PC rooms or gambling establishments. How do adolescents placed in an environment where they can easily gamble with just a decision react? Professor Kwon Sun- jung from the Department of Counseling Psychology at Korea Baptist Theological University responds, "When adolescents access gambling, their vigilance and risk awareness are significantly low. It's just high curiosity." In reality, operators of illegal gambling sites exploit the fact that adolescents are the most easily drawn in, making them the primary target for site operations. They provide free points and even use adolescents as distributors. Adolescents who become distributors lure their peers into gambling sites.

As the issue of teens’ online gambling addiction became more serious, President Yoon instructed on October 10th for a thorough investigation and crackdown on online illegal gambling, including internet broadcasting, games, and social media, to protect adolescents. In response, a cross- government response team was formed, including the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Korea Communications Commission. The team is tasked with cracking down on illegal gambling sites and advertisements, conducting education and counseling for adolescents, and providing healing and rehabilitation for those experiencing gambling addiction. We all need to recognize the societal environment that makes adolescents susceptible to the temptation of gambling during their developmental years and work together to create a system that can protect them.

By Kim Sugyung,editor-in-cheif  tnrud2824@naver.com

<저작권자 © The Campus Journal, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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