The gambling industry has been a source of debate for many decades. There has been a lot of legal gambling around, both from online gambling sites like Golden Lizard (메이저사이트) and traditional land-based gambling houses such as casinos. Quite a few people have experienced gambling addiction and sometimes ruined their lives.

On a positive note, the gambling industry has contributed so much in the economic sector, in terms of growth in domestic income and job creation. It also plays a huge role in the travel and entertainment industry, attracting many tourists around the world. In fact, Macau and Singapore are making the gambling industry a new driver of economic growth.

This raises the question – Is the gambling industry’s impact on Korea’s economy and the society positive or negative?

In an economic sense, if the benefits are huge then it is good. But if the costs are also huge then it can be bad. The problem, however, is that while the economic benefits had always been known to be good, there had been no real estimation of the costs. Therefore, there is no way of directly saying that gambling is good in an economic sense.

In this regard, a recent experimental study on the cost of gambling addiction has begun, and estimates of approximate but not sophisticated estimates of gambling costs have been published. Therefore, it is possible to judge concretely and quantitatively the effects of the gambling industry on our economy and society.

Huge socio-economic costs and rapid growth rates from gambling addiction

The positive impact of the gambling industry on our economy – convenience. Six gambling businesses are legally permitted in Korea. As of 2010, the total sales of these gambling industries have exceeded about 17 trillion won. Assuming that the positive effect of the gambling industry on other industries is assumed to be twice as large, it can be considered that the gambling industry brings about 34 trillion economic benefits.

The cost of the gambling industry. Most of the cost of gambling can be attributed to gambling addiction. In other words, in order to estimate the cost of gambling addiction, it is necessary to first look at the prevalence of Korean people falling into gambling addiction. Given that the prevalence of gambling addiction is measured at 1.9% to 3.3% when surveyed in the same way in foreign countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK, the prevalence of gambling addiction in Korea is considered to be quite high. In other words, the probability of Korean people falling into gambling addiction is two to three times higher than these countries.

Gambling Addiction in Korea vs. the Western Culture

In Korea, the cost of gambling addiction doesn’t only cause damage on the individual but is passed on to the family members. This is different from the cost of gambling addiction in western culture based on individualism. Therefore, the cost of gambling addiction is not only an economic problem (decline of income) but also a social problem (causes family discord, divorce, suicide, child abuse, domestic violence, and declining children’s education).

The cost of gambling addiction in 2009 is estimated at about 78 trillion won. This is an inflated estimate because there are cost items based on subjective responses from gambling related persons. It also includes many items that cannot be measured by financial costs such as suicide, domestic violence, and broken homes. There is also the possibility that the cost is lesser. In any case, it could be concluded that the cost is greater than the benefit in the gambling industry as a whole.

Conclusion

While Korea’s economy benefits from various gambling activities, it does have an impact on social welfare too. To answer the question, does the gambling industry in Korea have a negative or positive impact on the economy and the society as a whole? Based on the benefits and costs of the gambling industry (though studies lack data to prove it), the gambling industry has more costs based on the socio-economic impact of every individual who have experienced gambling addiction. Therefore, gambling industry has a negative impact on the economy as a whole.