PETALING JAYA: With the 2014 FIFA World Cup set to kick off in less than two months, there are worries over the amount of money to be lost in bets placed by youths and children.
A study by Gamblers Rehab Centre (GRC) Malaysia showed that 93% of the 600 primary schoolchildren surveyed gambled.
Most of them indulged in gambling during Chinese New Year gatherings and during weddings of family members or relatives.
It described gambling as a “fun pastime” which also helped them make easy money.
The survey, conducted at 61 locations nationwide between March and December last year, also found that 89% 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 82% of them started gambling with family members, 45% with peers, 38% on the Internet, 32% in gambling centres and 12% in school.
The bets they placed ranged from RM100 to RM10,000.
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.
“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 the rise during certain periods, such as the football and festive seasons.”
Lee said the number of students involved in gambling was surprisingly high and involved both boys and girls.
“Gambling is becoming easier for them as 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.
“With new technologies, one can gamble any time, even in classrooms,” he added.
Lee said many parents knew that their children gambled and allowed them to do so, especially during Chinese New Year.
“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.
“When a child gambles with even one sen, it will go deep into his or her mind that it can help make fast money,” he said.
Lee said teenagers were most vulnerable to gambling problems, noting that many were easily influenced as a result of rebellious behaviour, peer pressure and curiosity.
He said the GRC was the only non-governmental organisation in the country focused on the vice.
“It will be encouraging if more NGOs, people and the authorities join in.
“Parents and teachers should do more to warn children about the risks and dangers of gambling,” he said, adding that providing support in schools to prevent gambling habits was becoming more important.
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