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Children as Young as 7 Being Lured into Online Gambling

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The academic community has expressed concern that new technology could hinder efforts to regulate illegal gambling and discourage children from the habit.

Dr. Tham Chuesathapanasiri, a specialist at the National Institute for Child and Family Development at Mahidol University, believes online gaming has changed the gambling industry.

He said that legalizing casinos to prevent illegal gambling may no longer be relevant in an age when the internet and smart devices have put betting at the fingertips of people.

Furthermore, blockchain technology and digital currencies are set to transform the gambling industry, making it harder for authorities to trace financial transactions, some of which may be made by criminals to launder their ill-gotten gains from other crimes.

“Blockchain technology undermines oversight because it’s difficult to see and examine transactions, just as cryptocurrencies are difficult to trace when used for betting,” he explained.

Children being Targeted

He said the old-fashioned gambling dens will lose customers to a younger generation of gamblers during a seminar hosted by Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and Thai Journalists Association (TJA).

The faculty of medicine at Srinakharinwirot University’s Noongnuch Yaemwong discussed her experiences of running a pilot project to screen and give assistance to gambling addicts.

She said it took about three months to gain their trust due to the illegal nature of the activities and the involvement of influential locals. The consultations and behavioural changes took another six months.

Gamblers will conceal their habits until they crumble, she said, adding that it is important to help them realize they have a problem and get proper help.

Additionally, she pointed out that elderly people are also vulnerable to gambling addiction, and many engage in online gambling and rack up substantial debts as a result.

During the seminar, Gem, an 18-year-old former gambler, said he started with online football and placed bets of up to 5,000 baht on a single match. He had more trouble controlling his habit as he wanted to recoup his losses.

I had come to the realization that I couldn’t beat the odds. That’s when I decided to quit.

Clinic for Online Gambling Addicts

Dr. Mathurada Suwannapho, director of Srithanya Hospital said Gem was fortunate to have been able to quit early.

According to her, the Public Health Ministry recently opened a mental health clinic that provides support to people with addictions.

Dr. Nuannoi Trirat, Director of the Centre of Gambling Studies, discussed the possibility of setting up a legal casino entertainment complex to lure tourists.

“If casinos are legalized for economic reasons, the next question is how to deal with the problems associated with them,” she said.

“Furthermore, the Gambling Act is outdated. So much has changed.”

Children Being Lured into Online Gambling

Children as young as seven are becoming regular gamblers. This is according to a study that calls for severe penalties for those who lure them into gambling or allow them to gamble.

According to Mathurada Suwannapho, the director of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Rajanagarindra Institute, with the support of the National Health Foundation, 207,000 of Thailand’s 2.1 million gamblers are children and youth.

In a recent survey, children accounted for the biggest group of online gamblers, and the trend is on the rise.

Research shows that gambling can harm brain development and life skills in children, and online gambling can have three times more detrimental effects than normal gambling.

Gambling may also lead to children turning to other vices or even crimes, according to a study.

A key reason for youths skipping class is online gambling, according to the research. Unable to repay gambling debts, the youth engaged in illegal activities.

Researchers outlined ways to keep children and youth safe from online gambling and urged the government to prioritize the issue.

In addition, the research suggests stiffer punishments be imposed on those who allow children to engage in all forms of gambling, which should be viewed as a severe transgression.

The research concludes that a state organization should be set up to combat online transgressions, and budgets should be continuously allocated to combat them.

The report recommended the establishment of an anti-child gambling fund to arrange activities to raise public awareness. Prathom 4-6 students should be educated about this issue.

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