Gambling addiction fuels debt crisis among Thai manual labourers

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The escalating gambling addiction among manual labourers is primarily fuelled by socio-economic challenges rather than personal enthusiasm for betting, according to social workers. Government agencies and NGOs alike are endeavouring to counteract this trend by offering rehabilitative intervention programmes.

Pattamaporn Sooksomsod, an associate professor from Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Rajabhat University, identified the root factor of such gambling addiction as the inadequate wages most labourers receive, making it difficult for them to properly take care of their families. Owing to their exhausting overtime shifts in factories, they have little recreational time left as well.

Pattamaporn pointed out the ease with which anyone can access a plethora of gambling websites on platforms such as Facebook, inclusive of 24-hour chatrooms and strategic resources. Interestingly, she reported that most workers in Ayutthaya’s manufacturing industry view online gambling not as an addiction problem, but as a supplementary income endeavour.

Contrary to this belief, however, Pattamaporn’s research indicated that this exploitative pastime generally results in significantly higher losses to gambling addiction, often culminating in chronic indebtedness to loan sharks, thereby adversely affecting their family, job performance, and health.

She relayed her findings at the seminar Gambling Activities in a Daily Life of Workers in Manufacturing Industry, sponsored by the Center for Gambling Studies, the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth).

Tanit Toadithep, another associate professor at Burapha University, agrees with Pattamaporn’s views. He ascribed this gambling trend to eager factory workers’ ambition to accumulate enough money to establish small home-based businesses.

He cautioned how the enticement of gambling has unfortunate bankruptcy and relationship consequences when addiction takes over, reported Bangkok Post.

Reiterating other experts’ views, Lae Dilokvidhyarat, President of ThaiHealth’s Gambling Rehabilitation Direction Division, asserted that gambling addiction in underpaid workers stems from poverty. He argued that this societal quandary will only be resolved when workers earn a sufficient income that meets their lifestyle requirements. This will eliminate the stress associated with destitution, and hence, the temptation of wagering their hard-earned money on games of chance.

Jirasak Lamlert, the leader of Nippon Steel Corp Labour Union, noted that gambling addicts typically wager five to 10% of their wages on illicit betting games. He said that the union encourages these workers to reroute this amount to their household expenses.

In the fight against gambling addiction, numerous corporate entities have initiated anti-gambling initiatives. These endeavours are beneficial to both the businesses and the union relations, Jirasak reported.

Contributing to these collaborative interventions to mitigate the impact of gambling addiction, Wongjan Janyim of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation shared how ThaiHealth-sponsored anti-gambling initiatives provide supportive counselling to gambling addicts to help them break free from their habit.

Wongjan confirmed that the campaign has been successful so far, with 70% of the individuals involved now channelling lesser funds into gambling addiction and instead saving sufficiently for their respective families.

Thailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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