The Fifa World Cup in Brazil is just around the corner and a gambling rehabilitation centre in Malaysia is worried.
The reason: Youth and children might gamble away thousands of ringgit on the tournament.
A recent survey by the Gamblers Rehab Centre (GRC) showed that 93 per cent of the 600 primary school children it surveyed gambled, The Star reported.
GRC chief operating officer Lee Kim Heng said while sports fans were thrilled about the World Cup, others might be waiting to try their luck with gambling on the scores.
He said: "Many enjoy an occasional flutter of gambling, but for some, it can be highly destructive as they will not stop when a game ends.
"It is a repeated phenomenon with a rise during certain periods, such as the football and festive seasons."
Mr Lee said the number of students involved in gambling was surprisingly high and involved both boys and girls.
The Star quoted Mr Lee as saying that gambling was becoming easier for them because "they do not have to go to a casino or gambling outlet".
"It is easily available through the Internet, social networks via computers, tablets or smartphones," he said.
Mr Lee added that new technologies also meant that a person can gamble any time, even in classrooms.
The report said that most of those surveyed gambled during Chinese New Year gatherings and at weddings of family members or relatives.
They described gambling as a "fun pastime" that also helped them make easy money.
The survey, conducted at 61 locations nationwide between March and December last year, also found that 89 per cent of 5,000 secondary school students were involved in gambling.
Many picked up the habit from peers and even their parents.
The study showed that about 82 per cent of them started gambling with family members, while the rest began with their peers, online, in gambling centres and some even in schools.
The bets they placed ranged from RM100 (S$38) to RM10,000.
Mr Lee claimed that many parents knew that their children gambled and allowed it, especially during Chinese New Year.
But, he warned: "It is not okay for parents to let their children gamble. They need to know the dangers and how destructive the habit can be as one can be easily hooked."
He said that parents and teachers should do more to warn children about the dangers of gambling.
Providing support in schools to prevent gambling habits was becoming more important, he said.
|National Problem Gambling Hotline:||1800-666-8668|
|THK Problem Gambling Recovery Centre Hotline:||6576-0840|
This article was published on April 23 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.