7-Year-Old Gambler Found Among Alarmingly High Gambling Population in Thailand

  • New study shows that gambling in Thailand is steadily on the rise
  • 700,000 new gamblers were registered this year, over half the population engaged
  • Unlicensed lotteries and soccer betting found to be the most popular activities
  • CGS has issued calls for further regulation and help for problem gamblers
boy rolling dice
CGS’s recent study recorded a seven-year-old as the youngest gambler in Thailand and 700,000 individuals joining the country’s high gambling population this year. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The youngest of 700,000 new gamblers

A major study on the relationship between people based in Thailand and their gambling habits identified a seven-year-old as the youngest of 700,000 people estimated to have gambled for the first time in 2019.

57% of the country’s population engage in gambling activities

The study conducted by the Centre for Gambling Studies (CGS) found that 57% of the country’s population engage in gambling activities, showing an increase of 1.4 million since the research began in 2017.

20% of the gambling population fell into the 15-to-18-year-old age range. The majority of gamblers were aged 19 to 25 (46%), with the over-60s coming a close second at 42%.

Illegal activities most popular

Popular betting activities identified in the study included mostly illegal pursuits such as underground lotteries and betting on soccer. Card games were also listed as a favorite pastime. The CGS believes that publicity surrounding the government-backed lottery was linked to an increase in gambling as a whole.

CGS director Nualnoi Trirat said, “The Government Lottery Office prints more than 100 million lottery tickets for each draw, which far outstrips the country’s total population of about 68 million people.” She believes this, combined with extensive coverage of winners on the local news, is what fuels players to take a gamble and develop the habit.

Government lottery ranked third

The nationwide attitude to gambling has also impacted soccer betting, which is illegal, and other underground lotteries. Together, these add up to around 313bn baht ($10bn). In third place, the legal government lottery records profits of just under $5bn.

As part of the study, Trirat has asked the Government Lottery Office to look further into any long-term damage of gambling on society.

Public awareness of the dangers already exists in the country. The Thai Health Promotion Foundation was set up in 2010 to campaign for tighter regulations relating to gambling.

Dr Supreeda Adulyanont, the manager of the foundation, said:

[W]e urge the government to come up with policies which do not promote such activities in society.”

He added that this should include services to help addicts wean themselves off the habit, as well as to offer support for their families.

No outcome on proposals

Back in June, the Government Lottery Office put together a team to look at lottery-related proposals, including selling online. No further outcome has been issued since.

Thai authorities have also raised concerns over the loss of personal data by using unlicensed gambling operators. Earlier in August, the authorities warned that around 4.6% of the population, which is equal to 3.3 million people, may have had their information compromised through gambling with external providers.