April 29, 2024 3 min read


South Korea Arrests Thousands of Teenagers in Gambling Crackdown

Part of an ongoing effort to curb illegal gambling in South Korea, the country’s law enforcement has arrested over a thousand teenagers

South Korea has been taking a harder look at illegal gambling operations, holding players and operators accountable for either participating or hosting such activities. In its latest bust, South Korea’s National Office of Investigation (NOI) reported that it had been able to arrest 2,925 people connected with illegal gambling.

Droves of South Korean Teenagers Are Gambling Illegally

All of these arrests had been effectuated over a six-month period prior to NOI’s report, and the country is now launching a second six-month campaign in May, that will seek to arrest more people connected with facilitating illegal gambling.

In the latest bust, some 1,035 teenagers were arrested, indicating that there is a strong proliferation of illegal gambling services among youngsters who tend to be the most vulnerable when it comes to games of chance. Despite the risks, youths have been partial to gambling in South Korea, and have mostly been nonplussed by its illegal status in the country.

NOI said that 566 teenagers had been sent for counseling, as young people need to be set on a recovery path right away. However, leniency has not been shown to all. A total of 12 teenagers were actually apprehended on suspicion of having operated online gambling platforms themselves, and at least six teenagers are said to have promoted these websites, whether through affiliates or in some other way.

A total of $44.9 million had been seized from illegal gambling businesses and players during the course of the six-month operation. NOI also said that peer influence played a huge role in helping illegal gambling websites proliferate, as teenagers saw and embraced gambling from their peers or at school, although social media does have a part to play.

The majority of teenagers arrested were actually interested in baccarat rather than online casinos. For example, 41.9% prefer this specific card game against just 17.1% for those favoring online casinos. At least 19.8% of those gambling gambled on sports, and another 14.7% enjoyed online slots.

Young People Affected by Gambling – But by How Much?

The data revealed by NOI is worrying as it points to a very high incidence of gambling participation among young people in the country, but it’s also a solid basis to address and further direct resources to help protect youths.

Studies from all over the world have shown that regulating gambling has generally made it easier to track the rate of gambling participation among young people. Bringing more gambling options may have prompted some youths to gamble more, but it has also made it much simpler to track their participation and inform public debate and political action.

 South Korea does not allow any form of online gambling, which has made players seek alternatives such as offshore or illegal gambling sites. Those, however, may be contributing to a gambling problem that is festering. According to a study conducted in 2022, the level of gambling addiction in the country was 5.5% but the actual numbers could be much higher.

Last year, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family began offering 12-day rehabilitation programs to help young addicts recover.


Stoyan holds over 8 years of esports and gambling writing experience under his belt and is specifically knowledgeable about developments within the online scene. He is a great asset to the GamblingNews.com team with his niche expertise and continual focus on providing our readers with articles that have a unique spin which differentiates us from the rest.

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