PETALING JAYA - Internet gambling has become more rampant among young people, especially since it has become so easy to bet using smartphones.
Those aged between 17 and 30 now make up 75 per cent of online gamblers. The other 25 per cent consists largely of those aged between 31 and 42.
Data from Gamblers Rehab Centre (GRC) Malaysia received between 2007 and last year show that the number of online gamblers who received counselling have increased from just 16 cases in 2007 to 112 last year.
"We received an average of 120 gamblers seeking help from us every year.
"Due to the popularity of smartphones, internet gambling has become more common," said the GRC in a statement.
"There is no age minimum and it is open to everyone. The only qualification is the amount of money one has in the account," it said.
The GRC said online gambling on credit was operated by illegal syndicates that set up their own websites and appointed agents to get clients to open trading accounts.
"They will give their clients credits to bet. This type of gambling is very popular, especially among school students," it said.
Any losses or wins would be transacted via the account on a fixed day of the week.
"Since it does not require any cash deposit, it causes many to lose control and fall into the whirlpool of gambling.
"In order to win back lost money or to repay their debts, clients tend to borrow money from loan sharks, who in fact, are partners in the whole operation," the GRC said.
However, there are a few types of online gambling games which do not involve money and are found on Facebook, said GRC, adding that such games might encourage some to move on to "real" online gambling.
The GRC has conducted awareness seminars in schools and other places to prevent people from picking up the habit.