Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gambling Addiction in Korea

Preparing for Christmas Mass many years ago a non-Catholic came with news that he had lost a great deal of money gambling and wanted to become a Catholic. I spent some time talking with him and it seemed he really wanted to change his life but that was the last I heard from him. Something similar has happened over the years but there has not been many happy results.

In the Chosun Ilbo there was an article that stated in its headline that Korea had the largest number of gambling addicts. I wonder at times about these polls, not that Korea's figures are wrong but other countries would not be as organized as Korea in gathering the required information. This study was made by the Korea Culture & Tourism Institute. 9.5 percent of the Korean adults experienced problems with gambling. This means that about 3.85 million people are addicted to gambling the greater majority needing immediate attention.

These figures make Korea , percentage wise, the most gambling addicted country in the world even more than Nevada that has Las Vegas. There are many private illegal gambling houses, illegal gambling sites on the Internet and many different avenues that one can access to gamble within Korean society.

The Chonsun Ilbo mentioned that we need more effort to treat Gambling addicts. We all know how difficult it is to break the habit and we are familiar with many famous names that have lost everything at the gambling tables.

Korea's first Gamblers Anonymous was started in 1984 by a Catholic Columban Priest who was shocked when a farmer killed himself because he lost all his savings. These GA chapters have spread throughout the country and are helping many. This past September 17, Korea observed its first gambling prevention day.

In Korea one of the authorities on gambling addiction said that to gamble it is necessary to have time, a partner, a place and money. In Korea we have all four A s. Anytime, Anyone, Anyplace and A little. The Internet has made gambling very easy to access and in a country which has always frowned on gambling and outlawed it for years it is surprising how things can change so quickly. The article mentioned that in many developed countries people go to gambling resorts for fun to enjoy but in Korea they go to make money.

In Korea we have little help for those that are addicted.This is an area that non governmental groups should be involved.The different religious groups should be making this an area of concern since it is such a serious problem in Korea. There are many addictions: alcohol, drugs, porn, Internet, gambling and it is difficult to find the necessary help and supply of funds necessary for programs to help. Many of those afflicted do not admit to the problem which makes it all that more difficult to know where to start. Korea has decided that its number one addiction is the Internet and is working hard to make a difference with money and personnel and getting hospitals involved. Internet addiction is a serious problem but for the most part it is an individual problem with family repercussions but not as serious as those with gambling addiction which can destroy family life.

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