Chinese Gamblers’ Age Drops, While Gambling Debts Get Bigger, Social Service Counselor Says

A counselor has revealed that Chinese people seeking professional treatment for their compulsive gambling at the center he works in are getting younger, while their gambling debts are getting bigger.

Godfrey Ip, a counselor in the Zion Social Service, which helps and supports problem gamblers and their families, revealed that during the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a massive shift to online gambling services, which are currently extremely easy to access and allow a large variety of services. Mr. Ip further noted that about 50% of the people who asked the social service organization for help with their problem gambling behavior were aged 39 or younger.

The revelations about the increased online gambling participation rates of Chinese people were made by the Zion Social Service’s counselor after earlier this week a man was taken to prison for assisting the suicide of his parents. At the time the jail sentence was announced, it was revealed that the three individuals had entered a suicide pact together because they were not able to pay the man’s massive gambling debts and have been harassed by creditors for more than eight years.

Eventually, the man quit the agreement, but both of his parents committed suicide.

Age of Chinese Problem Gambles Seeking Professional Treatment Has Dropped Since the Beginning of Covid-19 Pandemic

Now, the Zion Social Service counselor revealed that although the organization did not have the latest figures, there had been evidence that the age of people seeking help for their gambling had dropped during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to him, the ones who were 39 and younger accounted for 50% of the Chinese people seeking help for their problem gambling behavior.

In addition, a general increase in gambling debts had also been registered. There was also a change in the customers’ preferences for the most common types of gambling activity when it came to transitioning from in-person gambling participation to online gambling, both legal and illegal.

As mentioned above, the Zion Social Service organization helps not only gambling addicts themselves but also offers support to families affected by one’s compulsive gambling behavior. The counselor noted that families often become subject to gambling-related harm when one’s gambling habits get out of control. According to him, it was important to give hope to such families that they would be able to resolve financial problems associated with gambling debts and to help them find a way out.

Mr. Ip shared that the most recent study on gambling in the special administrative region (SAR) of Hong Kong took place in 2016. According to the results that were announced at the time, 61% of the Hong Kong residents gambled, with the figure representing a decline from the gambling participation rates unveiled by previous studies. The trends, however, have changed, and online gambling services have become even more popular after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.