Teen gambling worsens

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 March, 2012, 12:00am


Increasing numbers of teenagers are gambling in Hong Kong, with some placing their first bet before the age of 10, a new report says.

Last year the Ping Wo Fund, a body set up to help problem gamblers, commissioned Polytechnic University to interview 3,982 teenagers under the age of 18 about their gambling activities.

The study found that 40 per cent of those interviewed had gambled, and of those nearly one-third started before they were 10.

The internet is the major platform for under-age gamblers, with only 20 per cent going to Jockey Club betting shops.

Soccer, cards and mahjong are teenagers' most popular betting activities.

Yau Wing-kwong, chairman of the Ping Wo Fund Advisory Committee, says local and overseas gambling sites are now increasingly within easy reach for teenagers as smartphones grow in popularity. 'Some teenagers log onto gambling sites in Macau or on the mainland without difficulty and pay with credit cards,' Yau adds. 'It becomes risky when they lay heavier and heavier bets.'

Yau says internet gamblers are hard to trace, and only 6.8 per cent have sought help from the Fund's counselling and treatment centres.

Lutheran Social Service counsellor Chow Ar-ying says their centre has been tracking gamblers through messages they left on online discussion forums, and providing them with advice.