The prevalence and nature of gambling and problem gambling in South Korea

Abstract

Purpose: To establish the current prevalence of gambling and problem gambling in South Korea and to determine the associated demographic and game play patterns. Methods: Administration of a gambling survey over the phone to 4,000 randomly selected South Korean adults (19+), supplemented by an online survey of 4,330 members of a South Korean online panel. Results: The past year prevalence of gambling among South Korean adults was 41.8 %. The past year engagement in individual forms of gambling was 36.2 % for lotteries and instant lotteries; 12.0 % for social gambling; 2.3 % for sports betting; 1.5 % for casino gambling; 1.5 % for internet gambling; and 1.1 % for horse, bicycle, or motor boat betting. The past year prevalence of problem gambling was 0.5 %. Logistic regression identified the best predictors of problem gambling to be: having a greater number of gambling fallacies; gambling on the internet; betting on horses, bicycling, or motor boat racing; social gambling; male gender; mental health problems; sports betting; motivation for gambling (gambling to escape); casino gambling; and lower income. Conclusions: The past year prevalence of gambling (41.8 %) and problem gambling (0.5 %) in South Korea is low compared to other countries, especially relative to other Asian jurisdictions. This relatively low prevalence of gambling is likely related to the very strong negative attitudes toward it, the low participation by females, and restricted access. The low prevalence of problem gambling is likely related to the relatively low prevalence of gambling and restricted access to continuous forms of gambling. The variables that are predictive of problem gambling in South Korea are quite similar to those found in other countries with a couple of important differences.

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