Thailand Gambling Prevalence Among Adults, Children Causes Worries Locally and Globally

Posted on: October 8, 2019, 03:39h. 

Last updated on: October 8, 2019, 04:51h.

Thailand continues to have many residents getting involved with different types of wagering, new research reveals. But there is particular worry over the East Asian nation’s younger kids gambling.

Occidental College Professor Sophal Ear is concerned over results showing a large number of Thai residents gambling. (Image: Phnom Phen Post)

That was the conclusion of a study of Thailand gambling trends. The Thai study was compiled by the Research Centre for Social and Business Development, according to The Nation Thailand. Some 44,050 Thai residents who are over 15 years old were questioned.

“Our study found that more than 700,000 people who gambled this year were first-time gamblers, and the youngest of them was only seven years old,” said Nualnoi Trirat, director of the Centre for Gambling Studies (CGS) and teacher of economics at Chulalongkorn University, in a Bangkok Post interview.

Also, 30.42 million Thai residents took part in betting, the study said. That is 57 percent of the population — and 1.4 million more gamblers since the first CGS study in 2017.

Those numbers are contrasted with the US. Some 64 percent of US residents revealed they gambled in the past year, according to a 2017 Gallup Poll. In fact, 49 percent of Americans taking part in the poll purchased a state lottery ticket within the past year. Some 26 percent went inside a casino. Approximately 15 percent took part in an office betting pool. Some 10 percent bet on pro sports.

The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery additionally recently reported that more than 80 percent of Americans between 12 and 17 questioned say they have gambled in the last 12 months. More than 35 percent say they gamble at least once a week.

When it comes to Thailand, of the 30.42 million gamblers who were questioned this year, 733,000 of them — representing 2.4 percent — were between 15 and 18. Also, 3.05 million — which is roughly 10 percent –were between 19 and 25.

The number of young people in Thailand gambling — or gaming, elsewhere — is especially concerning to US and Canadian academics.

Thai Youngsters Gambling Worries US Professor

“If accurate, these results are worrisome,” Sophal Ear, a political science professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles, told about the Thai study.

Seven years old is too young to be gambling…. There is a problem when people who aren’t even of consenting, or for that matter, voting age are gambling,” Ear added.

He was also concerned with the numbers in the general population in Thailand who gamble.

“If it really is 57 percent, it is serious,” Ear added. “It’s a figure that suggests that gambling is a problem for many people in Thailand. Nearly as many people voted in the 2019 Thai General Election — 35.4 million — as have gambled as of this month, 30.42 million. This is worrisome, to say the least.”

He is especially concerned about “financial risk” to the gambler’s family. The top three most frequent activities Thai residents wager on are: the government-run lottery, illegal lotteries, and betting on soccer, according to the recent survey results.

“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,” Nualnoi was quoted by the local newspaper.

There is local concern in the country about the risk for problem gambling, too. For instance, Supreeda Adulyanont, manager of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, advocates more regulations on gambling, the Post said.

“We believe access to gambling must be tightened, and we urge the government to come up with policies which do not promote such activities in society,” Adulyanont was quoted by the newspaper.

Supreeda also recommends keeping infrequent gamblers from turning into gambling addicts. Also, services should be offered to problem gamblers and to their families, Supreeda told the Post.

The Thai study was compiled by the Research Centre for Social and Business Development, according to The Nation Thailand. Some 44,050 Thai residents who are over 15 years old were questioned.

Government, Casinos Need to Curb Problem Gambling

Given the study results, Sophal Ear recommends that the Thai government “implement policies that inform the public and regulate gambling in a way that reduces harm. Nudges can be tremendously helpful in terms of policy.”

A “nudge” is an idea which encourages positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions to influence the behavior and decision making of groups or individuals, he explained.

Casinos should in no way encourage gambling addiction and should support programs to help gamblers, he added. They should also refuse giving additional credit to gambling addicts, Ear said.

In addition, McGill University Prof. Jeffrey Derevensky agreed that young children gambling “will only lead to more problems” in the nation. He teaches applied child psychology at Montreal’s McGill, where he is co-director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling problems and High-Risk Behaviors.

Those with gambling problems experience personal problems, but also negatively impact those close to them,” Derevensky further told He additionally confirmed that Asian rates of problem gambling tend to be relatively higher.

“What starts off as a natural activity can escalate quite rapidly,” Derevensky said. “Hopefully, they are getting assistance from gambling experts on establishing harm minimization strategies.”