The Thai Health Promotion Foundation, the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related associations held a meeting on Monday to discuss the gambling situation in the country in 2019 as a report showed that a whopping 30.42 million Thais, or 57 per cent of the population, gamble.

Dr Nualnoi Trirat, director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies, Faculty of Economics at Chulalongkorn University, shared the report by the Research Centre for Social and Business Development based on data collected from a survey of 44,050 people aged over 15 across 77 provinces.

The report said the figure of 30.42 million this year is an increase of 1.49 million from 2017 and includes 700,000 new gamblers. The majority of gamblers are of working age.

However, youth aged 15-18, or 733,000 young gamblers, are causing the most concern. This group is 20.9 per cent of the youth population. Meanwhile, 3.05 million, or 46.3 per cent of young adults aged 19-25, are also known to bet. The senior group – aged 60 and above – are also a cause for worry as around 3.35 million, or 42.2 per cent of the senior population, love to gamble.

The report said that the youngest gambler is seven years old.

Government lottery, illegal lottery, betting on cards, football gambling, and the Higher or Lower card game are the top five gambling addictions. Football gambling makes the most money – Bt160.5 billion – followed by illegal lottery – Bt153.1 billion – and government lottery – Bt150.4 billion.

Thai Health CEO Supreda Adulyanon said the World Health Organisation has classified gambling addiction as a psychiatric illness, which is in a group of disorders related to mental health, behaviour and neurological development. Many who are unable to stop the addiction tend to have lifelong problems, including mental and physical health complications, family debt, violence, or crime.

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