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Over 1,000 teens arrested for online gambling

April 25, 2024 - 15:28 By Choi Jeong-yoon
(Getty Image)

More than 1,000 teenagers, including two elementary school children, were arrested during a six-month crackdown on online gambling among young people, officials said Thursday.

The National Office of Investigation announced that it had apprehended 2,925 individuals, including 1,035 teenagers, in a bust initiated in September last year. Among them, 75 adults were formally arrested while 566 teens have been sent to counseling centers. During the crackdown, 61.9 billion won ($45 million) was confiscated.

Of the teenagers, 12 were accused of operating online gambling sites themselves. Six were involved in the advertising of gambling sites.

By age group, high school students accounted for the largest number of the group (798), followed by middle school students (228) and university students (7). Two elementary schoolers were also involved, with the youngest being a 9-year-old who placed a bet of 10,000 won.

The investigation found that many middle and high school students first encountered online gambling sites through friends. Teenagers were also drawn into gambling mostly through smartphone messages and ads through online and social media.

By gambling type, 41.9 percent of the total said they played Baccarat, followed by 19.8 percent who engaged in sports gambling, 17.1 percent who played at online casinos and 14.7 percent who played the Powerball lottery or on online slot machines.

A simple registration process on gambling sites that allows teens to charge gambling funds with their bank account or culture vouchers is one of the reasons online gambling is spreading among teenagers, the police explained. The perception that gambling is just a game has also accounted for the rise, according to police.

"Generally, teenagers can open an account when they are 14 years old, and even before that with their parent's permission," said a National Police Agency official. "Parents should keep an eye on (their children's) accounts to make sure they are not being misused and provide their children with a thorough financial education."

Police plan to resume another six-month crackdown in May.