Gov’t bans youth from poker venues to combat rising gambling risks


The government enforced, Friday, a ban on youth access and employment at “hold’em” pubs and similar drinking establishments offering gambling-style games such as poker.These establishments, where people play card games while drinking, had previously allowed adolescents to enter as they were registered as restaurants. This loophole has raised concerns about protecting teenagers from exposure to gambling.The new regulation comes as gambling is emerging as a serious issue for young people, with the government scrambling to safeguard young people from risks related to gambling.According to the National Police Agency (NPA), the number of juvenile gambling offenders surged last year to 171, which is a significant rise from 74 cases in 2022.

Specifically, the ban targets game providers that offer gambling activities resembling those found in casinos, as defined by the Tourism Promotion Act. This includes games such as poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and dice. Additionally, establishments offering games that simulate betting on horse racing or bicycle racing are also off-limits.Even businesses that are approved for youth access are subject to the new regulation if they offer gambling games.Violations of this ban carry severe penalties. Business owners hiring teenagers may face up to three years in prison or fines of up to 30 million won ($22,101). Admitting youths to such venues can result in up to two years of imprisonment or fines of up to 20 million won.Additionally, businesses must clearly display restrictions on youth access and employment. Failure to do so could also result in up to two years of imprisonment or fines of up to 20 million won.The government is also taking proactive measures to address youth gambling addiction. A diagnostic survey conducted by the gender ministry last year identified 28,838 high-risk students out of 877,660 participants.The survey expanded this year to include fourth graders in elementary school, reflecting growing concerns about younger children developing gambling addictions.The government plans to provide counseling for teenagers identified as being at risk of gambling through diagnostic tests. Additionally, it will support residential rehabilitation programs scheduled for May and November this year.”Active precautions are needed as youth gambling is increasing and becoming a social problem. We will take care of the young to keep them safe from illegal gambling,” Vice Minister 안전 of Gender Equality and Family Shin Young-sook said.

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