Korea Police Arrest More Than 1,000 Youth Gamblers, Including Nine Year Old

  • Police arrested 1,035 teens for online gambling including 12 for running betting sites
  • One of the two elementary school kids arrested was a nine-year-old who bet ₩10,000
  • Busan police bust an online gambling site two adolescents had worked with adults to make
South Korea police van
Police in Korea have arrested over 1,000 teenagers for online gambling. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Six-month operation

While the scale of gambling arrests in Asia often staggers US newsreaders, “a six-month crackdown on online gambling targeting adolescents” in South Korea defies belief.

accused 12 teens of running online betting sites

The Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) on Thursday said a crackdown by the National Office of Investigation resulted in the arrest of 1,035 teens, with 566 of them ordered to counseling centers. Of those arrested, authorities accused 12 teens of running online betting sites, six for promoting the sites, and five for “providing items under another person’s name.”

The Korea Times reports police also arrested 75 adults and seized ₩61.9bn ($44.9m) in criminal proceeds during the operation that ran September to March.

Officials stated invites from friends turned the teens on to the gambling sites. Most of them got lured into betting via messages on their mobiles and ads that appeared online and on social media.  

In South Korea, only foreigners can gamble in the country’s casinos and gambling is illegal for nationals except for controlled sports betting and lotteries.

Young guns

Investigators found baccarat was the most popular form of gambling among the offenders, with 434 teens arrested admitting to playing this vertical. Sports betting was the next favorite, played by 205 (19.8%) of those arrested, followed by online casino (17.1%), slot machines and powerball (14.7%).

The six-month bust spree nabbed 798 high school teens, 228 middle school students, and seven university scholars. One of the two elementary school kids arrested was a nine-year-old who bet ₩10,000 ($7.2).

Following the arrests, police discovered 1,000 bank accounts registered to teenagers were being used to manage betting funds.

The KNPA attributes the rise in online teenage gambling to the ease of crediting gambling accounts after a basic sign-up procedure. Korea JoongAng Daily cites authorities as stating: “Anybody with a bank account under a real name […] can easily top off their gambling accounts.”

In addition, authorities believe teens’ are becoming more confused regarding the difference between legal and illegal gambling. Police stated:

Recent adolescent-targeted online gambling has become smarter and more gamified.”

The Daejeon Metropolitan Police Agency meanwhile recently arrested eight operators of online gambling sites featuring games that had simple rules and quick wins. Police said 33 teens were found to be playing on these sites.

Skilled youngsters

In another linked case, Busan Metropolitan Police Agency uncovered an online gambling site that two adolescents, skilled in coding and running servers, had collaborated with adults to make.  

Busan police arrested 16 people in this case, with 96 teenagers found gambling on the site that raked in ₩213m ($155,0180) for the operators.

Following the success of the youth gambling crackdown, the National Office of Investigation is embarking on another six-month operation aimed at “adolescent-targeted online gambling” in May. 

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