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Concerns mount over potential Euro 2024 gambling addiction surge among Thais

As the Euro 2024 approaches, there is increasing concern that the tournament may lead to a rise in gambling addiction among Thai football fans, experts are warning.

The concern is based on the growing trend of football betting, which has become one of the most popular forms of gambling in Thailand. A 2021 survey by Chulalongkorn University (one of the top rated universities in the nation) revealed that football betting ranked fourth among gambling activities in Thailand, according to Kongkan Takhiranyit, assistant director at the Thai Health Promotion Foundation’s social risk control promotion department.

“In 2021, approximately 3.8 million Thais engaged in football betting, an increase of 300,000 since 2019,” Takhiranyit stated, noting that Thai gamblers have lost an estimated THB181.68 billion ($5 billion) on soccer betting.

With the upcoming Euro 2024, Takhiranyit expressed concern that more Thais might develop gambling addictions, particularly highlighting the risk of children accessing online gambling platforms.

The Thai Health Promotion Foundation is working with various agencies to promote enjoying the tournament without betting. Campaigns will be launched in Chiang Mai, Si Sa Ket, Chonburi, Suphanburi, and Trang to raise awareness about the dangers of football gambling during the tournament.

Thanakorn Komkrit, Secretary of the Stop Gambling Foundation, Concerns mount over potential Euro 2024 gambling addiction surge among Thais

Thanakorn Komkrit, Secretary of the Stop Gambling Foundation, emphasized that the World Health Organization classifies gambling addiction as a disease due to its impact on brain function and the insatiable desire for reward it creates.

“Gambling addicts repeat their behavior because it affects their brain function,” Komkrit explained, comparing gambling disorders to shopping addiction. The anticipation of rewards from betting releases adrenaline in the body, driving the addictive behavior.

Komkrit also highlighted that even high-profile athletes have struggled with gambling addiction, mentioning England football legends Peter Shilton, Paul Merson, Michael Owen, and Wayne Rooney. He cited Shilton and Merson’s admissions that their gambling habits replaced the excitement they felt while playing football.

Urgent solutions are needed to address gambling addiction in Thailand, Komkrit added, as the issue affects younger generations and the broader sports industry. He advocated for finding alternative, creative ways for people to enjoy sports competitions without gambling.

He pointed to measures taken in other countries, such as Britain’s ban on professional athletes sharing insights that could encourage betting. He concluded with a poignant quote from Shilton, who overcame gambling addiction: “Addiction is giving up everything for one thing, recovery is giving up one thing for everything.”

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.

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