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South Korean underage gamblers getting younger, increasing in numbers


The South Korea National Police Agency (KNPA) is reporting a surge in the number of Korean juveniles (gamblers) apprehended for involvement in illicit gambling activities.

According to a recent statement released by the KNPA, there has been a significant surge in the number of Korean juveniles apprehended for involvement in illicit gambling activities, prompting law enforcement to devise comprehensive preventive measures.

The country has also seen a continued decrease in the average age of teenagers caught gambling in the past five years, reaching 16.1 years old in 2023, according to the police.

In 2023, a total of 171 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 19 were apprehended under suspicion of participating in illegal gambling, marking a 2.3-fold increase from the previous year’s figure of 74. Notably, boys constituted 92.4 percent of these individuals.

Over the past five years, there has been a consistent decrease in the average age of suspects, dropping from 17.3 years old in 2019 to 16.6 in 2021 and further to 16.1 in 2023.

The nation’s policing agency (KNPA) also revealed that a significant portion, accounting for 84.8 percent, of the suspects were engaged in online gambling activities, such as baccarat and sports betting, with each game typically lasting only about 10 seconds.

In addition, 56.7 percent of these individuals accessed gambling platforms at internet cafes, predominantly utilizing computers and smartphones.

Law enforcement authorities anticipate a continued rise in juvenile gambling through smartphones, owing to their easy accessibility and the perception among youth that mobile gambling is merely a casual pastime.

The police cautioned that underage participation in illegal gambling could lead to various associated crimes, including instances of school violence and fraudulent activities aimed at securing funds for gambling purposes.

National Police Agency Commissioner Yoon Hee-keun emphasized the serious threat posed by illegal smartphone gambling to the youth, pledging to combat youth gambling addiction through intensified guidance and efforts to prevent relapses.

In response to this trend, law enforcement agencies plan to launch awareness programs targeting middle and high school students and their parents, aiming to educate them about the hazards of gambling. Additionally, collaborative rehabilitation programs with local counseling centers for teenagers will be established to provide counseling, medical assistance, and legal support to offenders.

Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel
Frank Schuengel is an online gambling industry veteran with over twenty years of experience in Europe and Asia. Equally at home in the Isle of Man and the Philippines, he started his career as a sports trader before setting up and running whole operations, and more recently focusing on the regulatory and licensing side of things in the worlds of fiat and crypto eGaming. When he is not writing about gambling topics, he can be found cycling around Manila and advocating sustainable transport solutions for a Philippines based mobility magazine.