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Online Games and E-Sports Luring Thai Youth into Illegal Gambling

“Thai youth aren’t aware that online games and e-sports are already connected with [illegal] online gambling business.”

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BANGKOK – Child protection advocates are concerned that Thai youth are being exploited and lured into online gambling.  Saying the growing popularity of online games and e-sports among Thai youths is worrying .

About 3.6 million Thai youths are involved in some forms of illegal gambling, 2 million males and the rest females.

Phacharaphan Prachuaplap, secretary-general of Thailand Youth Institute, citing results of a study conducted by Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Economics.

On average these young gamblers owe about 3,500 baht each as a result of their gambling habit, Mr Phacharaphan, said. Citing information from the same study which was conducted in 2017.

Dr Mathurada Suwannapho, director of Rajanukul Institute who specializes in child and youth psychology worries about accessibility.

Saying online games and e-sports attract a large number of youths thanks to easy accessibility. There is a high risk that many of them will be tempted to switch to gambling for teams they support later on, he said.

E-sports and online games are already connected with online betting services on certain computer programs and mobile smartphone applications. Users can not only play a game online but also make in-game purchases, chat and make other payments online.

Dr Mathurada was speaking at a seminar on problems facing  Thai youth related to online gambling. Held the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), Thursday.

In the case of e-sports, viewers are allowed to watch a tournament while at the same time bet on its result, she said.

As such, the viewers who are mostly young can be easily lured into online gambling, she said.

Online Gaming Can Lure Thai Youth into Gambling

“Thai youth aren’t aware that online games and e-sports are already connected with [illegal] online gambling business,” she said.

In a bid to curb gambling problems facing Thai youth, an plan has already been drafted to prevent young people from getting involved with gambling. Thus mitigating the impact of illegal gambling on Thai youth, said Phongthon

Chantharatsami, manager of National Health Foundation’s Information Centre for Gambling Control Policy.

“The situation of online gambling, in particular, is very critical now with easy access to the internet,” he said.

It takes months to shut an illegal online gambling site, it takes only a few minutes to create a new one, he said.

Worse still, the 1935 Act on gambling doesn’t even contain the definition of online gambling. Which means authorities are required to the computer crime law when trying prosecute the offering an online gambling service.