Awareness of online gambling is highlighted in ‘Crime City’s 40 million viewers’, and voices for additional measures are growing – Business Post VRESP

'Crime City's 40 million viewers' raises awareness of online gambling, calls for additional measures grow louder
▲ On the 3rd, a group of people based in the Philippines who operated an illegal gambling site worth 2 trillion won was caught by the police.

(Business Post) Recently, social awareness is being highlighted again as the movie ‘Crime City 4’ starring Ma Dong-seok, which is about illegal online gambling that is rampant throughout society, surpassed 10 million viewers.

Even though President Yoon Seok-yeol directly ordered a strong crackdown, there are no signs of improvement in suppressing online gambling, so there are voices calling for an urgent need to improve the system through law revision.

In the 21st National Assembly, the amendment to related laws aimed at quickly blocking the source of illegal gambling sites is at risk of being scrapped amid political strife between the ruling and opposition parties, but attention is focused on whether it can be passed in the 22nd National Assembly.

According to the political world on the 16th, despite the police’s special crackdown, the scale of illegal online gambling has grown to an astronomical level and is spreading mainly among teenagers and young adults, making the situation increasingly serious.

For example, a group of people who ran an illegal gambling site worth 2 trillion won was caught by the police on the 3rd. They are suspected of operating 29 illegal gambling sites headquartered in the Philippines from 2021 to last year.

They provided illegal gambling such as Sports Toto, Powerball, and casino games (slot games and baccarat) to more than 20,000 members who signed up for the site, and the stake amounted to approximately 2.2853 trillion won (based on deposit amount).

In addition, a group of people who ran an illegal gambling site worth 500 billion won were caught by the police last March, and it was shocking to learn that they even used second-year middle school students as distributors to commit crimes.

Distributors took profits through various settlement methods, such as 30% of the amount lost from betting by members they recruited or 3-4% of the total dividends.

According to the 5th illegal gambling survey by the Gambling Industry Integrated Supervision Commission, the total scale of illegal gambling in 2023 exceeded 102.7 trillion won. This is 4.48 times the total sales of the legal gambling industry.

According to the results of the analysis of the status of users who visited the center for treatment and rehabilitation of gambling problems by the Korea Gambling Problem Prevention and Treatment Center, as of 2022, users under the age of 39, which corresponds to adolescents and young adults, account for 71.6% of the total users. The gambling problem is serious.

Online gambling accounted for 78.2% of users’ main gambling type, and considering that it was 44.8% in 2014, the proportion of online gambling has increased significantly in just a few years.

In this situation, the National Investigation Headquarters of the National Police Agency conducted a ‘special crackdown on cyber gambling targeting youth’ for six months from September of last year to March of last year, during which 2,925 people, including 1,035 teenagers, were arrested.

President Yoon Seok-yeol took the problem of youth gambling seriously and launched a ‘pan-government response team’ in which the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Korea Communications Commission, Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, National Police Agency, and Gambling Industry Integrated Supervision Committee participated. This can be interpreted as a result.

At a Cabinet meeting on October 10 last year, President Yoon said, “The recent announcement of the results of a survey showing that 190,000 elementary, middle, and high school students are ‘risk groups for gambling’ is causing great shock,” and added, “The opening of illegal gambling for youth is a national threat.” It is a vicious crime that undermines the future. “An all-out government response is very important,” he said.


'Crime City's 40 million viewers' raises awareness of online gambling, calls for additional measures grow louder
▲ Crime City exceeded 10 million viewers.

The movie ‘Crime City 4’, which deals with such social issues, recently surpassed 10 million viewers. The film tells the story of the death of a wanted app developer in the Philippines while investigating a case of drug sales using a delivery app, which is linked to a large-scale illegal online gambling organization.

Awareness of cyber gambling is growing as actor Ma Dong-seok, the main character of ‘Crime City 4’, recently participated in the ‘Youth Gambling Eradication Relay Challenge’. Ma Dong-seok emphasized in the challenge, “Cyber ​​gambling is a fraud that can never be won,” and “You should never do it even out of curiosity.”

Although the police are making all-out efforts to crack down and make arrests, related crimes show no signs of abating. Accordingly, there is a need to hasten the revision of the law to quickly block Internet gambling sites.

In a phone call with the Business Post, a police official said, “The social atmosphere in which Internet gambling is tolerated is the most problematic,” but also diagnosed, “Priority should be given to ‘fundamental blocking’ of youth accessing Internet gambling sites.”

Another police official introduced, “The police have established a ‘prevention lead plan’ and are distributing educational materials to parents to inform them of the seriousness and are also making short-form videos related to this.” However, we agreed that strong punishment and quick blocking of the site were necessary as advance publicity alone had clear limitations.

In the 21st National Assembly, which has about two weeks left in its term, a total of five bills to amend the Act on the Establishment and Operation of the Korea Communications Commission (Korea Communications Commission Act) to quickly block Internet gambling sites have been proposed and are pending in the standing committee.

In order to quickly protect users from illegal information such as gambling or speculative information, Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Won-i and People Power Party lawmaker Cho Myung-hee and Seong Il-jong proposed a bill that would allow site blocking only through written resolution rather than at a plenary meeting of the Korea Communications Commission.

In addition, Democratic Party lawmakers Park Wan-joo and Cho Seung-rae presented a bill containing new regulations to enable decisions to be made using online video conferencing, but this was also pending in the standing committee.

Amid intense conflict between the ruling and opposition parties, including the president’s right to reconsider (veto) several controversial bills, including First Lady Kim Kun-hee’s Special Prosecutor Act, the amendment to the Korea Communications Commission Act to quickly block illegal Internet gambling sites was not even discussed in the standing committee.

With the end of the 21st National Assembly session just around the corner, the bills are expected to go through the process of being repealed. It is highly likely that the revision of the Korea Communications Commission Act will be pushed forward again in the 22nd National Assembly, but it is analyzed that it is uncertain whether it will actually be passed as there are many controversial bills on which the ruling and opposition parties have clear differences of opinion, including the Special Prosecutor Chae Sang-byeong Act.

An official from the opposition party’s lawmaker’s office said, “I agree with the need for the bill, but there was no progress in discussions in the 21st National Assembly due to poor cooperation with the ruling party.” He added, “Because there may be another change in the situation in the 22nd National Assembly. “I cannot give a definite answer regarding the promotion,” he said. Reporter Lee Jun-hee

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